Hundreds welcome Belvoir Hunt at New Year meet in Melton
Hundreds of people turned out in Melton's Play Close park on New Year's Day to welcome members of the Belvoir Hunt.
It has been an annual tradition since 1983 for hunts to meet in the town on January 1.
The Belvoir take it in turns with The Cottesmore and The Quorn to gather in Melton on New Year’s Day.
This year more than 50 riders and their horses from the Belvoir rode out with their hounds after being greeted by senior townwarden, John Southerington, who served port and whisky in the stirrup cup tradition.
This year the hunt, was accompanied by Sandra Watson and her striking eagle owl.
Joint-master, Tom Kingston, told the Melton Times: “It was a great turnout this year.
“Melton Mowbray is the traditional capital of hunting in this country and we always get a good welcome in the town.
“We had a lovely day trail hunting around Freeby, Waltham and Thorpe Arnold.
“We have the eagle with us in case we are able to flush anything out while we are hunting.”
Mr Southerington said: “We were very pleased with the turnout this year.
“There were well in excess of 1,000 people, probably around 1,800, in the Play Close when the hunt master made his speech.”
The three hunts used to take turns to meet in Market Place, in Melton, on New Year’s Day because that is where their respective territories meet.
But due to health and safety concerns around the welfare of horses and riders using icy surfaces, it was decided to move the meet to the Play Close, on the invitation of Melton Mowbray Town Estate.
Mr Southerington, who started the New Year meet tradition in the town in the early 1980s, said: “It’s become a very popular event in Melton every January 1 and I was pleasantly suprised by the support again.
“I thought it was a good idea all those years ago because on Boxing Day The Belvoir meet in Grantham, Cottesmore meet in Oakham and The Quorn meet at Loughborough.
“I thought it would be good to have an annual meet in Melton, and it has been very successful.”