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Grass e-route - 16th February

Welcome to the grass e-route from the Countryside Alliance on 16th February. This week Sir Barney White-Spunner takes up his role as Executive Chairman, we reveal the regional champions in the Countryside Alliance Awards and launch our hunting photographic competition. 



A welcome from Barney White-Spunner

I write this at the end of my first seven days as the newly appointed Executive Chairman of the Countryside Alliance. It has been a very hectic first week in my new role - meeting the board, staff and various members of the Alliance and learning more about how the organisation works - but already I can see that I am lucky to have a great group of people working extremely hard for everyone who lives in the countryside.

Over the coming weeks I hope to be able to share more with you of my vision and hopes and expectations for the Countryside Alliance. I also imagine I will be meeting many of you in the near future at great Alliance events like our Point-to-Points and Race Days, or at the various county and country shows as we get closer to the summer.

In the meantime I want to thank you all for your continuing support, and would urge any amateur photographers to take a look at item 3 on this newsletter – a very worthwhile competition that I am looking forward to judging!

Barney White-Spunner
Executive Chairman


Regional Champions announced in CA Awards

The seventh annual Countryside Alliance Awards are hotting up now that all ten regions have declared their Champions. These Regional Champions in the ‘Rural Oscars’ now go forward to the Grand Final which will be held at Parliament on 7th March.

The ‘Rural Oscars’ have long been a hit with the public, the media and politicians, all aware that in these dire economic times it is vital to support your local communities and enterprises. Local money spent locally stays local, boosting the economy and going back into the pockets of the community.

This year’s Regional Champions are stoical and hard working and take genuine delight in living and working in the countryside. A diverse group, the Champions cover a range of ages, occupations and geographical areas. This year we welcome Ireland into the Awards and are looking forward to bringing our Irish Champions together with Champions from the Isle of Lewis, Northumberland, West Sussex, Lincolnshire and Cumbria (amongst others) so that they can share their stories and learn about how business is done in other corners of the UK and Ireland. The Parliamentary reception on 7th March will draw together people who are ambassadors for high animal welfare, local produce, community empowerment and going far beyond the call of duty for other people – what an excellent group to bring to Parliament to represent our countryside.

We are very proud to honour our Regional Champions, who are listed below. They can all take great pride in getting to this stage in what is an increasingly competitive field. The national judging panel, chaired by our new Executive Chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner, meets next week to select the UK & Ireland Champions. Good luck to everyone and we will bring you news of the Grand Final in a few weeks time.
For more on the Awards and past winners please see 


"Hunting under the Act" photo competition launched

18th February: the seventh anniversary of the Hunting Act 2004 coming into force in England and Wales. To mark this particular milestone we are launching a positive celebration of hunting’s resilience: a “Hunting under the Act” photo competition. The Countryside Alliance is giving one talented amateur photographer a unique opportunity to take the picture that appears on the front of our Autumn Magazine. The competition has been designed to show the determination of the hunting community to ensure hunting’s long term future.

We are inviting all amateur photographers who support hunting to send in their hunting shots, taken since the Act came into force, for the chance for their photograph to grace the cover of our Autumn magazine – which goes out to over 105,000 people. 

This photo competition will illustrate just how stoical the hunting community has been in rising to the challenge of hunting under the Act. We want a range of shots whether atmospheric, quirky or moving, to show the world that hunting is still here and will continue to thrive with the camaraderie and strength that the Hunting Act could not break.

The competition is being launched to mark the Act’s anniversary, and the winner will be announced on another anniversary: 10th July, 15 years to the day after the Hyde Park Rally that launched the hunting movement as we know it. Our Executive Chairman, Sir Barney White-Spunner and our President, Baroness Mallalieu, will be on the expert judging panel alongside renowned fieldsports photographer Charles Sainsbury-Plaice (who took the above photograph). Hunting photography is something we all enjoy enormously, so we look forward to receiving your entries and bringing together something rather special.

Send in your photos of “Hunting under the Act” to The deadline is 25th June. Files must be 300dpi, high resolution jpegs of 3 or 4MB or more. If the winner is a landscape shot it will be used as a double page spread within the magazine. Copyright of images passes to the Countryside Alliance, but all future use will be credited. 


The Hunting Act in the Midlands

On Sunday the Sunday Politics show in the Midlands reported on the Hunting Act. 
The report revealed that, through a Freedom of Information Act request, the BBC has discovered there has been only one conviction under the Act in the region since 2005 – for hare coursing. The feature includes the views of Warwickshire Hunt Master Anthony Spencer and contains a short studio debate between CA Animal Welfare Consultant Jim Barrington, Conservative MP Karen Lumley and Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood. Jim Barrington is in feisty form against the Act and its failures on animal welfare, and he also criticises the “pseudo morality” of those who pushed the Hunting Act through at such huge public expense. Watch the report before Sunday (at about 37.40mins) 


Event of the Week: Ascot Countryside Race Day

Please note that the Worcestershire Rory-Knight Bruce evening, scheduled for 24th February, has been postponed until further notice.

The third annual Ascot Countryside Race Day will take place on Sunday 1st April, so please put the day in your diary now. As ever the event will begin with a Race for Repeal, this time contested by local Masters. The jockeys are listed below – they are racing for the Countryside Alliance’s hunting campaign and would appreciate your sponsorship so please click through to back your favourites. The contenders will be taking part in a race training day and we will be filming them as they are put through their paces. A short film will be online soon.
As well as the flagship Race for Repeal the day will have a lot to offer including a full race card, hound parades and many countryside displays to entertain such as the Quack Pack and birds of prey.

As ever there will be a lunch in the Pavilion and tables can be booked now. The lunch will begin with a drinks reception shortly after the Masters’ Race for Repeal. This will be followed by a seated lunch and a short auction. The Countryside Alliance’s new Executive Chairman, Lt Gen Sir Barney White-Spunner will be at the lunch and will be outlining the Alliance’s plans for the future.

Pavilion tickets are priced at £65 for adults, £40 for under 16s and £15 for under tens. Tables of 10 are preferred but smaller parties may be booked. Book now by calling 0207 840 9298 or emailing Credit card bookings can only be taken over the phone.


Point-to-Point meetings this weekend

 Saturday 18th February

· BROCKLESBURY at Brocklesbury Park (N.E Lincs)
First Race: 12.30pm
Admission price: £10 per person, including a race card. Under 16s free

· CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY DRAGHOUNDS at Cottenham (Cambs) rescheduled from last weekend
First Race 12noon
Admission price: £10 per person

· MENDIP FARMERS at Ston Easton (Somerset)
First race: 12noon
Admission price: not supplied by meeting

· NORTH HEREFORD at Whitick Manor (Hereford)
First race: 12noon
Admission price: £12.50 per person

· SINNINGTON at Duncombe Park (Yorkshire)
First race: 12 noon
Admission price: £10 per person

· VALE OF CLETTWR at Cilwendeg (Pembrokeshire)
First race: 12noon
Admission price: £10 car and driver, £5 each additional passenger

Sunday 19th February

· ALBRIGHTON at Chaddesley Corbett (Worcestershire)
First race: 11am
Admission price: £10 per person

· PERCY at Alnwick (Northumberland)
First race: 12noon
Admission price: £10 per person, includes a free race card

· SOUTH EAST HUNTS at Charing (Kent)
First race: 12.30pm
Admission price: £10 per person, under 16s free

· SOUTH DORSET at Mildbourn St Andrew (Dorset) rescheduled from last weekend
First race: 12.30pm
Admission price: £15 & £25 car parks, £5 discount for single occupancy.

· SOUTH POOL HARRIERS at Buckfastleigh)
First race: 12noon
Admission price: £20 per car, £10 single occupants, £7 pedestrians

· VINE & CRAVEN at Barbury Racecourse (Wiltshire)
First race: 12 noon
Admission price: £20 per car, £10 per person, under 16s free

· WAVENEY HARRIERS at Higham (Suffolk)
First race: 12noon
Admission price: £10 per person, under 16s free


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