We appreciate that the cancellation of the Summer hound Show schedule is disappointing news – particularly for those businesses with trade stands like Baily’s where it forms a significant part of our promotion and income. However, given the number of visitors who would attend from all over the UK and abroad and the chance of transmission of the virus between attendees or professional or amateurs and retired hunt staff it is an unwelcome but pragmatic decision.
Like most hunting related businesses we have used any ‘spare’ time we had over the autumn and winter to source new stock develop new ideas and, in our case rebrand with new corporate clothing, losing the post Hunting Act ‘black’ and returned to the more familiar red. So though you won’t see us this year, when we get through the current Corona virus challenge we will be easy to find!
Regarding red and black there is as we write a glimmer of good news in that many hunts will be able to take advantage of the government small business rate relief scheme which could add £10,000 to help hunt expenses at this difficult time. We hear that many local authorities are already issuing these funds to those that qualify them but for those hunts who are not sure or who have not heard of the scheme the details are here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses
In today’s social media driven world where the lack of facts could lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that, (with apologies to Erasmus) ‘in the land of the gullible the one who tells the greatest lie is King’ the journalistic approach to the current pandemic and hunting with hounds is broadly and disappointing similar – who cares if you have relevant expertise – write something to make your report as dramatic and melodramatic as possible and publish it. They rely on the fact that it does not matter if you have never actually seen a hunt or your only visit to a hospital was to accident and emergency with a nasty case of carpal tunnel syndrome the public will avidly consume whatever you write particularly if you can support your stories and dramatic claims with phrases such as ‘our source said’ and ‘we were given an exclusive’ as if you have an insight to the very core of a tale that is not available to anyone else.
In the case of hunting in particular our opponents have continued to bombard the regional and national online and print publications with fanciful tales of evil ‘redcoats’ and ‘shooters’ indulging in all sorts of behaviours ranging from arrogant to illegal.
As a result hunting people are left fighting both fact and fantasy to the extent that even if hunts do help their local community if it is reported at all it is done so grudgingly and quickly that it is easily missed. It is perhaps a good thing that hunts are not in the habit of trying to exploit fundraising or community activities for PR, and now is not the time to do so. We have the networks in place to make a real difference in helping our local rural communities, and it is absolutely right that we do so as much as we can, knowing that it is at times like this when people are more inclined to judge based on actions rather than politically-minded rhetoric. Now is not the time to bang on about tradition or repeal without any thought for the people around us who are isolated and perhaps in need of help.
Wherever you are in the World things will not be the same from now on and though not cataclysmic the new ‘normal’ will be different. By adapting to circumstances hunting with hounds survived the ravages of two World wars, as well as the introduction of railways, motorised vehicles, and barbed wire. We will get through this, and at some stage in the future we will have days out with hounds – but not yet.