Search

Crowds and protesters clash at controversial Boxing Day hunt

PUBLISHED: 14:41 26 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:22 27 December 2018

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Hundreds of supporters and protesters turned out for a controversial Boxing Day hunt meeting in a Norfolk market town.

Hundreds of supporters and protesters turned out for a controversial Boxing Day hunt meeting in a Norfolk market town.

The Dunston Harriers were given permission to hold their annual Boxing Day meet in Wymondham town centre following a vote by the town council last month, which saw a majority support the event.

As in previous years, large crowds gathered at the town cross to watch the riders parade in full regalia, before embarking on an artificial trail hunt.

But a group of protesters, made up of hunt saboteurs and animal activists from surrounding areas, took the opportunity to raise concerns about the activity.

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Armed with placards and banners, the group surrounded the cordoned off arena and shouts of “shame” were heard as the horses made their way into the centre.

Georgina Mann, joint master of the Dunston Harriers, previously defended the hunt and said all planned activity would be in accordance with UK hunting laws as an artificial scent would be used in place of a live fox.

Some spectators expressed anger at the protest and as tempers flared, a few attempted to remove banners from the hands of the activists.

Many in the crowd were long-term residents of the town and Tony Stanley, who lives on the outskirts, said he did not understand why those against the tradition chose to attend.

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

He said: “I was bought up in a town and I moved to the countryside because I like the country ways.

“It’s nice to see the old traditions carrying on. If you move to the country adapt to the ways or move back to a town.”

Nina Crane, from Wymondham agreed and said the event was something her family looked forward to every year.

She said: “It’s a Boxing Day tradition and it’s just a bit of fun to watch. We don’t get the chance to see it very often so just enjoy the spectacle.”

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

But activist Kai Rayner said she believed the dogs often came across live animals on the hunts.

She said: “I understand why people come to watch because it’s quite a spectacle but if people could see what actually happened after the meet they wouldn’t support it.

“There’s plenty of other entertainment out there so you don’t have to watch this.”

Kayley Wells, from Ipswich activist group Chicken Save, added: “We’re here because even though it’s traditional we believe it ends in cruelty and we want to raise awareness so people can’t argue they didn’t know.”

The controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe controversial Boxing Day hunt meet in Wymondham town cross. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

However Rob Reay, manager at nearby Cross Key pub, said he supported the event because it helped drum up custom.

He said: “We’ll be packed all day and if it wasn’t for the hunt we wouldn’t be.

“It’s a great way of getting people into the town centre and whatever the motives of the hunt that’s a good thing for Wymondham.”

Most Read

Latest from the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists