Big crowds turn out for traditional Boxing Day hunt meet

The Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt arriving at the Boxing Day meet 2015 in Stilton. Picture by Claire Wright

The Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt arriving at the Boxing Day meet 2015 in Stilton. Picture by Claire Wright

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Hundreds of people gathered in Stilton to watch the traditional Boxing Day meet of the Fitzwilliam Hunt.

The Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt gathered for its traditional Boxing Day meet in front of The Bell Inn at Stilton and was greeted by large crowds.

Crowds watcht the Boxing Day hunt meet at Stilton. Picture by Aidan Bradley

Crowds watcht the Boxing Day hunt meet at Stilton. Picture by Aidan Bradley

Joint Master Philip Baker said: “It is wonderful to see so many members of the public here supporting us and enjoying meeting hounds and horses. We are very grateful for their continued support and look forward to seeing them again next year.”

There was applause from onlookers as hounds and the 83 mounted followers left the centre of Stilton.

This year is a landmark for the Fitzwilliam, as its huntsman of 32 years, George Adams, retires at the end of the hunting season. However, his successor is in place, and a hunt spokesman said Simon Hunter “looks forward to carrying on the traditions for many years to come”.

About a quarter of a million people turned out to support Boxing Day hunts taking place around the UK, according to the Countryside Alliance.

The lobby group said more than 300 meets were held across the country on one of the most popular dates in the hunting calendar.

Hunting with foxes was made illegal more than a decade ago and artificially-laid trails are used instead - and anti-hunt campaigners say the ban should remain in place after suggestions there could be a fresh vote.

The hunts took place after a poll, conducted on behalf of the League Against Cruel Sports, said eight out of ten people believe fox hunting should remain illegal(Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,036 people aged 15 or over face-to-face between November 27 and December 10. Results were weighted to reflect the wider adult population).

The survey results claimed 83% of respondents thought the ban should remain in place and opposition to legalising fox hunting has risen from 72% in 2008, according to the League.