On the eve of the Virginia Foxhound Show, the Masters of Foxhounds Association will announce the recipient of this year's Ian Milne Award. Honoring Milne, an individual who excelled not only in the field but as a generous mentor to others, the trophy and cash gift are presented to a professional huntsman who has earned the respect of his or her peers. Past recipients include Larry Pitts, Tommy Lee Jones, and Johnny Gray. The presentation will take place Saturday evening, May 26, in conjunction with the national hornblowing championship on the lawn at Morven Park in Leesburg, VA. 

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Ian Milne and hounds. Photo courtesy of Dennis Foster.

Originally from Yorkshire, Milne was trained in the British staff system before coming to Canada and then to the Sedgefield Hunt in North Carolina. He later moved to the Fairfax Hunt in Virginia, where he hunted hounds for Randy Rouse for more than 15 years, and with his wife, Brenda, became mainstays of the northern Virginia hunting community.

Fred Berry, present Sedgefield Master and huntsman, first came to know Milne during his time in North Carolina. "He was most revered by the other huntsmen," Berry recalled. "He and Brenda would host a party before the Virginia hound show, and it was the place to be for the huntsmen. So many of us hunting hounds today met and got to know each other through Ian.

"In keeping with his example, this award goes to the most deserving huntsman from the perspective of professional standards, peer respect, and longevity. Ian exemplified all of these qualities."

Former MFHA Executive Director Dennis Foster recalled those pre-hound show parties in his eulogy in Covertside following Milne's death in 2000: "The yearly 'huntsmen' parties during the Virginia Hound Show started with a few huntsmen sitting around blowing their horns off Ian's porch into the still of the night - the notes echoing off the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was the real competition of the show. It often ended with two or three horns - being blown, simultaneously by one person. Today that same party requires a tent and has hundreds of hunt staff from everywhere across the hunting world joining together to talk shop."

Foster added, "He was a great huntsman for the newer huntsmen, and all the accomplished huntsmen he touched. His contributions to the sport were far beyond what most people understand. I created the Ian Milne award because he epitomized what a professional should be."

This award honors a professional who is thought by their peers and Masters to have consistently shown - through his or her sport, work, personal ethic and behavior - excellence and set an example for other professionals to follow. Plan to come out to Morven Park Saturday evening (especially if you're already attending the art exhibition opening at the Museum of Hounds & Hunting, or the Virginia Foxhound Club dinner) to cheer on this year's hornblowing contestants, and to celebrate Milne's enduring positive influence on our sport.

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