I never thought I would miss coronation chicken. But, having recently judged my first virtual puppy show for the Crawley and Horsham, there was no drinking and no delicious lunch, sadly. Although, on the plus side there were no speeches; I am running very short of material.
It was a completely surreal experience to judge a young entry on one’s phone, and when it was over I went back to the gardening. But well done to huntsman Bill Bishop and his team for staging it.
Those who tuned in will, I am sure, have loved seeing Bill and his team along with some very happy puppies, especially Naughty the champion bitch.
With restrictions being very slowly lifted, we dare to dream that our sport will start on time and that lost revenue over the spring and summer months can be made up by supporters of every pack, who will be eager to help normality resume throughout our communities.
While people all over the world have had to endure unbelievable hardship, misery and sadness, we can hardly moan, and in fact not a day has gone by where I haven’t thanked our lucky stars that we have some room to roam here and each other to keep us going.
If you had asked me three months ago, I would have replied that TikTok was the noise a clock made, a Zoom was an ice lolly, Houseparty was a programme hosted by Noel Edmunds in the ’90s and that social distancing was something I practised only at our hunt AGM. What a journey.
Missing the banter
As well as the coronation chicken, I am missing hound shows this summer for the banter and camaraderie. There will of course be those who go and visit neighbouring packs to have a look at the doghounds and discuss a limited breeding programme, but you can’t beat meeting up and the feeling of competing with your own hounds.
Ardingly is our local show and so well organised, and I’m sure many a dinner table echoes with the sentiments that “we would have won this year”, but it is not to be.
I was due to judge at the Great Yorkshire show at Harrogate this summer as well as at several local shows, and that is a particular disappointment. However, as I have already said, it is a minor tragedy in the circumstances.
A fresh pair of eyes
Andrew Osborne is chairman elect of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and will take over in May next year. My colleagues on the MFHA committee and I voted unanimously in favour of the appointment and I would like to congratulate Andrew and thank him for taking it on. His tenure will be tricky, I am sure, with so many obstacles to overcome, but he will bring a fresh pair of eyes and an unrivalled passion for wanting to see hunting be relevant and prosper in the 21st century.
Among hunting’s many challenges will be reinvigorating its grassroots and utilising the many good people within our sport. With the enormous pool of talent hunting has at its disposal, it has an excellent chance of thriving in the next decade and I believe it will.
Ref Horse & Hound; 25 June 2020