Catherine Austen rounds up all of the latest hunt staff moves from around the country
Bill Bishop is retiring from hunt service after nearly 30 years, most recently as huntsman to the Crawley and Horsham. Bill, 51, has worked in 10 hunt kennels in different parts of England.
He grew up in Lincolnshire and started hunting as a child with the Fitzwilliam, Cottesmore and Belvoir. His first job in hunting was as kennelman/ whipper-in to Colin Hicks at the Braes of Derwent. From there he went to the Blankney, the West Norfolk, the Fitzwilliam, the South Dorset, the West Somerset, the Oakley – where he hunted hounds for the first time – back to the West Norfolk, the Wheatland and Atherstone before going to the Crawley and Horsham two seasons ago.
“I love what I do and have enjoyed it immensely, but the job is changing so much and I am looking forward to the next stage in life,” said Bill, who is going to join his fiancée Louise Young in farming near Lingfield. “The place I would go back to out of all of those is the West Somerset. It’s where my daughter Issy was born, and it’s a fantastic country with lovely people.”
Hawkins retires from hunting
After more than 35 years, Ian Hawkins, current huntsman at the Sennybridge in Wales, is retiring from hunt service.
Ian, 60, grew up in the Rhondda hunting with the Ystrad. In 1981 the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray (CLC) advertised in H&H for a second whipper-in and a groom – and Ian and his girlfriend Lynette got married on 25 April and moved together to the CLC, where Nigel Peel was master and huntsman and Bob Collins kennel-huntsman.
After two seasons they moved to the Cheshire, where Ian became first whipper-in to Johnny O’Shea, and where their children, Emma and Robert, were born.
“That was a hell of a place for hunting, and I learnt so much,” said Ian.
Four years later he moved to the New Forest, initially as kennel- huntsman and then huntsman, and became good friends with Sir Newton Rycroft, the illustrious hound breeder and former master and huntsman of the New Forest.
“It was a lovely place with fantastic people, but the saboteurs were bad – we’d have 60 of them on a Saturday, and it was quite a dangerous place to be with a young family,” Ian said.
In 1991, the call to return to Wales proved too strong, and the Hawkins went to Brecon, where Ian hunted hounds for 13 seasons.
“It was a dream come true, although money was tight,” said Ian, who worked as a carpenter and ran the council dog poundalongside his job as huntsman.
He did a huge amount of work improving the kennels, and bred an excellent pack of hounds who did well on the flags as well as on the hunting field. In 1997, he won the champion Welsh bitch prize at Builth with Sonnet.
Ian came out of hunt service for 11 years, but rejoined as Sennybridge huntsman six seasons ago.
“It’s time to go, but I am leaving them with a good pack of hounds,” said Ian.
Staghunting stalwart exits
After years of dedication to the Devon and Somerset Staghounds (DSSH), Janet Ackner is retiring as joint-secretary after 26 years at the end of this season.
Her nickname of “Granny” stems from the fact that, as well as welcoming many hundreds of followers to the DSSH over the years, in her other role as stud groom she has worked with a “vast number” of young people.
Former masters Maurice and Diana Scott said: “Janet took on the role of joint-secretary to the Devon and Somerset Staghounds in 1995 and continued throughout our mastership. She was highly efficient, hardworking and reliable. Janet turned out her horses and herself to perfection and was always on time to carry out her duties in the field.
“In 2003, Janet took on the extra job of stud groom. The horses were always turned out impeccably and they were always fit and well. She did an amazing job for us and never let us down. Nobody could have done better than Janet during her long service to the DSSH and we are truly grateful for the time she worked with us.”
A retiring fund is being set up by Nick Webber and Pat Bawden, who both have worked as joint-secretaries with Janet.
Donations can be made by cheque – made payable to “D&S Presentation Fund” and sent to Mrs P Bawden, Halsgrove Cottage, Withypool, Somerset
TA24 7RX – or by BACS to: A/C 38046458, NatWest 52-30-42.
New huntsman for the Oakley
South Durham master and huntsman Harry Beeby is moving to the Oakley on 1 May. He will join Ian Hudson, Lady Thompson and Hannah Pattinson in the mastership.
Current Oakley huntsman Simon Hand is going to the South Dorset as kennel-huntsman.
Harry said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge. I whipped-in to two of the Oakley’s neighbouring packs – the Fitzwilliam and the Pytchley – and, having grown up in the Quorn country, it will be nice to return to that part of the world.”
Also published in H&H 4 March 2021
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