In Appreciation of Commander Bill King, 1910-2012

Commander Bill King smallWilliam Donald Aelian ‘Bill’ King died recently at the magnificent age of 102 at his home, Oranmore Castle, in County Galway, Ireland. He was a highly decorated submarine commander, a world renowned sailor, boxer, athlete, organic farmer, writer, and a family man.

In addition, he was a lifelong follower of the Galway Blazers, and Lady Molly Cusack Smith’s Bermingham & North Galway Foxhounds with his late wife, the author Anita Leslie who he met in the Lebanon during the war in 1940. She was a daughter of Sir John Randolph Leslie and Marjorie Ide a daughter of General Henry Clay Ide, a former American Ambassador to Spain, and Governor of the Philippines. Anita had been previously married to the well known Russian cavalry officer Colonel Paul Rodzianko who was appointed chief instructor of the Irish Army Equitation School in 1928. She wrote seventeen books, including Lady Randolph Churchill, The story of Jenny Jerome, the life of Sir Winston Churchill’s mother, and Sir Francis Chichester, the biography of the famous round the world yachtsman. Bill held the distinction of being the only submarine commander to command a British submarine on the first and last days of World War II, such were the perils of such a dangerous command. He was also the last surviving submarine commander of the British Navy from the last war.

Former Head of UK Land Army Appointed to Lead Countryside Alliance

Former head of the UK Land Army Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner, KCB CBE has been appointed Executive Chairman of the Countryside Alliance and Director of the Countryside Alliance Foundation with effect from 9th February, taking on all the responsibilities of current Chief Executive, Alice Barnard, who leaves in early February. Barney will be based in the Alliance’s London Headquarters.  Kate Hoey MP, will remain Chairman of the Board of the Countryside Alliance.

Alastair Jackson, Director of the British Masters of Foxhounds Retires

Mounted hunting is a huge fraternity of people with a passion which takes on a lifestyle that is shared wherever foxhunters travel.  They invite you to come hunt with them, lend you a horse, throw a dinner party, host you in their homes and thank you when you leave.  It is the same wherever you go.  How does that happen?

Well, in England it happens because of people like Alastair Jackson.  He has provided advice, information, help and made sacrifices that make hunting safer, fun and easier for us.  But, even more so, he dedicated his life to helping to save this great sport for future generations.

News From The Countryside Alliance: The Biggest Boxing Day for a Decade

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!

Visit the Royal Dublin Horse Show

Time to Plan Your Visit

The Annual Royal Dublin Society Horse Show is truly an international affair, with visitors from France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, America and many more countries who are there to see some of the finest horses in the world. Of particular interest is the Irish Hunter. During the course of the week of the 3-7th of August this year, what has become known as ‘The World’s Most Charming Horse Show’ will attract some 80,000 visitors to the 40 acre site of the RDS Showgrounds in the centre of Dublin City in Ireland.

There they will see the cream of Irish horses competing for the most sought after prizes in equestrian sport in Ireland. More than 1,400 horses and ponies will compete in over 100 competitions with the owner’s dream of saying, “My horse won at the RDS in Dublin.” The beautifully manicured main arena has seen a succession of world dignitaries like presidents, crown heads of Europe and the Middle East, Hollywood film stars and other household names relaxing from their daily duties and mingling with the crowds enjoying the spectacle. Film director John Huston bred Connemara ponies while he lived in Ireland, and showed them at the RDS. In fact he has the distinction of being the only owner to show a pony that gave birth to a foal the following day in the stables at the RDS!

Frazers Tailors to the Foxhunting Fraternity Destroyed by Fire

After hunting with the famous Scarteen Hounds in the village of Hospital in County Limerick, Ireland recently I decided to visit the workshop of William Frazer to take some photographs. Little did I know that they were to be the last images taken of these famous tailors, as four days later the shop was destroyed by fire. Not only did Michael and Elsie Frazer loose all their precious stock of bolts of melton cloth for hunting jackets, cavalry twill material for riding britches, material for waistcoats but also a collection of hunt buttons of packs all around the world of foxhunting. Suits and casual jackets were also part of the Frazer collection as well as ladies skirts and slacks.

Their precious black book (although totally confidential) must have read like a who’s, who of clients that featured some of the best known horsemen and women in the world: Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, Prince Johannes Lobkowicz, Lord Daresbury, Captain Ronnie Wallace and the Earl and Countess Harrington and many more. Aidan O’Connell was another who had his hunt cutaway tails, which featured a Prussian collar and Prince of Wales cuffs, specially tailored by Frazer. Amongst the many photographs on the walls from around the foxhunting world was a photograph of O’Connell and Dr. Martin Fleming hunting with the Blue Ridge Hounds in Virginia, with both gentlemen in tailored cutaway tails, waistcoats and britches all tailored by Frazers. The black book also contained measurements of famous clients that bore discreet descriptions like PB, that could mean either prominent bottom or bosom, or and VPB, or very prominent bottom or bosom. They also lost all their clients telephone numbers and addresses. Fortunately the word is spreading slowly and the expansive list of Frazer clients have been contacting Michael and Elsie which has allowed them to begin to recreate their client list.

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