A Happy New Year to all readers. The Countryside Alliance is celebrating what looked like a record turnout for the Boxing Day hunts in the United Kingdom. The news also quoted Agriculture Minister Jim Paice decrying the Hunting Act. It was hard to keep under wraps, but a fortnight before Christmas I travelled with Jim to Milton Park, where we met with huntsman George Adams of the Fitzwilliam and had photos taken with some of the hunts’ gorgeous hounds. Our media team worked out a punchy quote with the Minister and set about making sure that this Boxing Day would be one of our strongest in recent memory.
The Countryside Alliance’s press release was picked up by the media. Mine and the Minister’s quotes were printed in all of the major national newspapers and featured in almost 200 local papers nationwide. CA representatives were also interviewed on BBC News, Sky News, the Today Programme and several other TV and radio stations. While the League desperately tried to play catch-up, the message from the hunting community was loud and clear – we’re still here, proud and ready for repeal. And then – in the midst of this flurry of media activity – reports started pouring in from hunts around the country that turnout was beyond what even they had expected. It wasn’t long until the media got wind of the increased numbers and 27 December was another great day for hunt coverage, as journalists wrote about record turnouts and renewed optimism and vigour from the hunting community.
We can all be proud of the reaction to the Boxing Day and New Year’s hunts – from those who turned out in record numbers to support their local hunt, to all in the hunting community who spoke to the media and helped project our confidence and desire to fight the ban. Add to this the strong words from a Government Minister acknowledging that “the current law simply doesn’t work”; and it makes for a real cause for celebration. The fight is far from over and we still need all your support for the coming fight, but it’s hard to deny that we have started the year in the best possible way!