Crowds flock to show support for Shropshire and Mid Wales hunts

[gallery] Large crowds turned out to support hunts across Shropshire and Mid Wales.

Crowds flock to show support for Shropshire and Mid Wales hunts

More than 2,000 people turned out in Newport for the Albrighton Hunt, one of a number that rode out across the region.

It was a show of solidarity on a day in which a survey backed by the RSPCA claimed that more than eight out of 10 people supported the ban on hunting with hounds.

The Albrighton Hunt met at the Royal Victoria Hotel before heading out.

One of the biggest turnouts was in Ludlow, where spectators thronged the streets around the town's castle.

Hunt secretary Ann Staniland said: "It was a wonderful sight. The horses emerged from the castle and came out of the mist. The crowds were 20-deep in places."

After a week of rain and gales, sunshine and gentle winds greeted meets across the region.

In Newport Julian Hill for the to watch the Albrighton Hunt said a collection was made among the spectators which will go to charities including Help the Heroes and the air ambulance as well as local good causes.

"The Albrighton and Woodland hunt merged recently and is growing all the time, with 200-300 people registered to ride," he said.

"We go out up to five times a week in the season. The crowds today have been wonderful."

One of the biggest turnouts was in Ludlow where spectators thronged the streets of the historic town to watch the Ludlow hunt make its way up to and into the grounds of the town's castle.

Hunt Secretary Mrs Ann Staniland said the atmosphere was wonderful. "It was misty which made for a wonderful sight as the horses emerged from the castle," she said.

"The spectators must have been 10-20 deep as the 90 riders rode through the streets."

Over the border in Powys, the Tanatside Hunt met at the Royal Oak Hotel in Welshpool as it does every year.

Mrs Liz Bourne, secretary, said: "The hotel always does us proud, hosting the Boxing Day meet. We had 30-40 riders and there must have been about 400 people in Welshpool to enjoy the colour and the pageantry.

"We rode out into the countryside for three trails that had been laid. The weather was great, with just a small flurry of sleety snow.

"It was a bit muddy underfoot, the horses must have taken a lot of washing when everyone got home."

In Malpas , across the Cheshire border the Sir Watkin Williams Wynne Hunt rode into the centre of the village.

Mrs Sally Anson, the secretary, said: "Malpas was choc-a-block with spectators and a lot of people who followed the hunt.

"We had about 80 riders and all in all it was a great day with lots of spectacle."

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