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Crowds turn out to see hunts in Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 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

Thousands turned out to Boxing Day hunt meets across the region - as Labour warned it would strengthen legislation banning the hunting of animals.

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

There were demonstrations in two towns before hunts got under way.

The Dunston Harriers were given permission to meet in Wymondham town centre after town councillors voted to support the event.

Large crowds gathered to watch riders and hounds parade through the town.

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

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

Some spectators expressed anger at the protest and tried to remove banners from the hands of the activists.

More than 3,000 filled the centre of Bungay for the annual Waveney Harriers meet.

About 40 riders gathered in Earsham Street and received a rapturous welcome from the crowd – who chatted with riders and fussed the hounds.

Master of the hunt Chris McDaniel, 60, said: “People like to come out and see the horses and hounds – it’s the thing to do on Boxing Day.”

Waveney Harriers Boxing Day Hunt 2018, Bungay. Photo: James Carr.Waveney Harriers Boxing Day Hunt 2018, Bungay. Photo: James Carr.

Not everyone in the crowd was cheering the riders on. A small group of anti-hunt protestors from the Norfolk and Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs staged a peaceful protest.

One of the protestors, Margaret Rose, said: “After the parade when everyone sees the glitz and glamour the hunt goes on.”

Crowds gathered at Raynham Hall, near Fakenham, to see the West Norfolk Hunt.

“It’s an excellent turn-out of people on foot, it’s fantastic,” said field master Nick Saffell.

the Norfolk and Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs at the Waveney Harriers Boxing Day Hunt, Bungay. Photo: James Carr.the Norfolk and Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs at the Waveney Harriers Boxing Day Hunt, Bungay. Photo: James Carr.

There was no sign of protest. An anti hunt group had earlier posted the location of the meet as Fakenham Racecourse on social media.

Crowds also turned out to see the the North Norfolk Harriers at Sennowe Hall, between Fakenham and Dereham.

Hunters said the turn-out showed their sport was secure. But Labour pledged to strengthen laws banning hunting with hounds with possible prison sentences for those who break them.

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said an incoming Labour government would review penalties to ensure the 2004 Hunting Act was an effective deterrent.

The hounds move off from the West Norfolk Hunt's Boxing Day meet  Picture: Chris BishopThe hounds move off from the West Norfolk Hunt's Boxing Day meet Picture: Chris Bishop

Ms Hayman said they would also consider measures to close “loopholes” in the legislation.

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