The popularity of country sports can be in no doubt to anyone witnessing the throng at the CLA Game
Fair at Blenheim Palace, Oxon. A record 125,000 visited the three-day event. Tessa Gates was among them
POLITICS and sport are a heady mix and there was plenty of opportunity for people to air their views at the seminars which included such topics as Who has the right to manage the land? and The Burns inquiry.
Hunting is still the hot topic and the one with which the Countryside Alliance is most identified. But at a Press conference its chief executive, Richard Burge, was at pains to point out that there are many other serious threats currently facing rural communities and that civil liberties were at stake.
"It is now, clearly, a fight for personal freedoms – for the right to be rural in the face of urban complacency, ignorance or even prejudice," he said. "Members will be staging novel events daily at the Labour Party conference in Brighton that no delegate will be able to ignore and these will not just be about hunting. Also we will be organising rallies round the country in the autumn. But we are not calling them rallies -they will be focus groups!"
Questioned on whether the Countryside Alliance will be putting up any candidates at the next election, Mr Burge stated that it was not a political party and never would be.
"We are not about forming government and have no endorsed candidates but we will make sure the views of candidates are exposed on key rural issues."
The freedom to work dogs of all types is not one that will be let go lightly. Working dogs come in so many shapes and sizes and nowhere better is this seen than in the daily parade of dogs. Here, examples of well known and rare breeds were shown by enthusiastic owners, all of whom know that keeping them true to type depends on them having a purpose in life. This is one show where dogs are really welcome – it even provides a dog creche – and pooper scoops were handed out to owners as they entered the site. Whats more they were used.
Above: farmers weekly/CLA Game Fair Gamekeeper of the Year Gary Walker of Caradoc, Sellack, Herefordshire, received his award from FW Editor Stephen Howe and Thomas Loyd, CLA. Right: Did you see that, mum? Sam OConnel (8) proved even complete novices can hit a clay at the first attempt…with the right tuition.
Fighting for personal freedoms…Richard Burge, Countryside Alliance.
Above: Heres looking at you…
A Slovakian rough-haired pointer from Pontefract owned by Kevin and Julia Bingham. Below: In search of tight lines… Youngsters get some expert help at the NFA casting clinic.
Left: An owners eye view of Jack Russells, cast in resin. Digger the dog is a new twist on garden ornaments from Duberry and Whatsit, Tetbury, Glos. Above: Working on the BASC stand was wildlife artist Keith Brockie. His painting of Black Grouse at Lek features on the Wildlife Habitat
Trust stamp for the millennium. Funds raised
by the stamp aid conservation
and sporting projects.