The Edenbridge & Oxted show signifies the beginning of another new season for the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent (OSB&WK). This year’s hound parade was very well received with packed grandstands and a busy members’ stand cheering us on and wishing us well.
I paraded hounds with Ben Giddings and David Pitfield and, upon entering the main ring, earlier fears were confirmed when we spotted our previous huntsman, Mark Bycroft, standing in the middle of the ring with a smile. There can be few more unnerving scenarios in the world than Mark with a microphone and yourself without one.
The trouble is (and keep this to yourselves), he is actually very good at explaining the place hunting has in the world today, and he is brilliant with children. I often think the powers that be could do worse than send Mark from one end of the country to the other promoting our community and dispelling so many of those myths about us.
Every new season brings fresh challenges and this one will be no different. For us it is tiresome to have to deal with all the usual issues and problems that any club our size faces today, but we have to add in to that our opponents who, despite publicly acknowledging on social media that we have led the way on hunting within the law and trailing with our hounds, continue to “stalk” us relentlessly.
I would urge them to seek some evidence, anything at all that proves the ban on hunting has done any good to anyone, including the fox, since its inception.
In fact, if I could rub a lamp a have a genie appear to grant me four wishes for the coming season, I would tell our opponents this:
- If you are going to monitor us, please do so from a public highway, byway, footpath or bridlepath.
- Please stop “stalking” our hunt staff and members; turning up at kennels every week serves absolutely no useful purpose whatsoever.
- Please stop writing fictional reports after a day out with us (lying in this way has become acceptable to them) just so your supporters send you some money.
- Please stop saying the OSB&WK are on their knees and nearly finished. We have never been healthier in respect of support and goodwill and, thanks to our forefathers, our hunt is safe for the next 50 years.
- Lastly, when the Crown Prosecution Service decide to take on the very serious crime of “stalking”, I am told that to start each case they consider the mnemonic “FOUR”. Is your stalker or are your stalkers: fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeating. Well, in our case the simple answer to that is yes, yes, yes and yes!
Ref Horse & Hound; 13 September 2018