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David Cameron skips west Wales hunt

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Charles Frampton; Master and Huntsman to the Heythrop Hunt

Charles Frampton; Master and Huntsman to the Heythrop Hunt

PRIME MINISTER David Cameron sent his apologies to ‘drag’ hunters in Pembrokeshire as the European Council took priority over local drag hunt as part of hunt week.

On Monday (Feb 1) The famous hunting club the Duke of Beaufort’s Huntsman, Tony Holdsworth brought along the clubs hounds to initiate the hunt week in Pembrokeshire which started at Castle Morris in North Pembrokeshire.

After a full day’s hunt, members of Pembrokeshire, South Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, and Carmarthenshire Hunt clubs, as well as visitors from all over the UK prepared themselves for the arrival of the famous Heythrop Hunt club, who it was said would be accompanied by the Prime Minister.

Christopher Harte, Carmarthenshire Hunt’s PR manager invited the Herald to attend the hunts and said: “On Monday the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt, known as the ‘badminton,’ was met by visitors from surrounding counties at Castlemorris. The following day the meet at Haycastle was with the Heythrop Hunt whose best known rider is the Prime Minister, David Cameron.”

Mr Cameron’s absence was apologised for on the evening, but the gathering of hunters were not deterred and turned up in force with almost 30 riding hunters and in total around 90 people arriving to see off the hounds and chasers.

Over the past week a number of hunts have taken place in South West Wales, and in total over three thousand riders, foot followers and supporters have turned up at the South Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Tivyside and Vale of Clettwr Hunts.

‘Drag’ hunting has taken place in the UK and has been a large part of country living since the early 19th century, it involves dragging a scent along the ground for a set distance for the hounds to follow, the scent is usually made from oils and sometimes animal meats or urine.

Farmers often vocalise their dislike of foxes and explain that the reason the animals are considered pests is due to the surplus killing they commit when entering farms, especially into chicken coops, where they may kill several but only eat one.

The sport and its gatherings often attract anti-hunting activists who instead of choosing to take action lawfully, go down the more illegitimate group.

A representative of the South West Wales hunts explained the practices of the protesters and saboteurs: ”We do, occasionally get our hunt meetings interrupted by balaclava wearing youths. These are mainly students from the Bristol area who are paid to be silly for the day. The organisers, both of whom are based in Pembroke, pay £30 to each student, and they get a packed lunch as well.”

“You know these idiots are not animal lovers as in recent weeks they have lured hounds on to main roads where some have been hit and injured by passing vehicles.”

Mrs S.M Johnson from Lampeter who travelled over an hour and half to the first hunt, and over two hours to the second told the Herald about what her fellow hunters have experienced when protesters have been present: “I myself have been lucky enough to never have a run-in with such people, but from what is said by other members of the hunt, it accomplishes nothing and leaves a bad taste for the day, for everybody involved.”

On the second day while on horseback Mrs Johnson said: “The best time of day is around about half past two when everybody else goes home and there are only a few of you left it’s like the private view before the big exhibition and you never know you may get a very interesting bit of development at that time of day.”

Taught by Mrs Noreen Vaughan a national hunt breeder and former competitor at Wembley, Grace Evans riding Abergwaun Acrobat attended the hunt riding side saddle and said:

“Noreen took me under her wing too teach me everything I know and I went to county and competed there, and came forth, and ever since we’ve been going hunting as much as we can.” Noreen added: “Hunting has been going for centuries and is just part of the countryside, long may it continue, it brings everyone from all walks of life together, it hopefully will never be stopped.”

A spokesman for the Hunts said: “Both days were splendid and the hospitality given by the hosting hunt people was absolutely perfect. We were overwhelmed by the kindness shown to us and both days were a joy to behold.”

He added: “For the past twelve years all of these hunts have complied with the law by only laying “drag” trails for the horses and hounds to follow. These trails are expertly laid down and often results in hunts taking over six hours to complete the course.”

“The support of the farming community is essential to the survival of the hunts and virtually every farmer in the wide area gives permission for the hunts to use their land.”

One Carmarthenshire resident against fox hunting said: “Hiding behind the age-old excuse of tradition and the hunter instinct, they take life that is virtually useless to them in terms of sustenance. It is merely a method of satisfying a hidden psychopathic urge, tempered only by the laws of the land that prevent them from killing fellow human beings for sport.”

However a representative from South West Wales hunts said: “The old concept of hounds chasing and killing wild animals is a far-fetched urban myth which, alas, is still considered to be the case by those who are ignorant of the facts.”

Highlighting the community spirit of the hunt he continued: “What is of considerable satisfaction to the hunts and their committees are the number of young people who become active members. In some hunts the weekly turnout can reach up to 20% of the riders.”

Tom Quinn, Campaigns Director for the League Against Cruel Sports said: “Although hunts claim they act within the law, we believe that many of them continue to hunt illegally. The Heythrop Hunt is a good example of this, having been convicted of hunting illegally in 2012.

“Anyone who claims that trail hunting is the same as drag hunting doesn’t know what they are talking about. Drag hunting is a legal and cruelty-free pastime where hounds follow an artificial scent. But no traditional hunts claim to drag hunt – they all claim to trail hunt with hounds trained on a fox-based scent.

“Unsurprisingly the hounds of hunts that claim to be trail hunting often end up chasing and killing live foxes. But the hunts often avoid prosecution by protesting that it was an accident. The hunts will claim that the only time they can’t control their hounds is when they’re about to kill a fox. This is clearly absurd. Huntsmen are experts at controlling their hounds which makes their claims that these illegal hunting incidents are accidents even more unbelievable.

“Hunt monitors around the country regularly see hunts chasing foxes and there have been a number of well publicised incidents recently where hunts have killed foxes. Unlike hunts and their followers, these animal lovers give up their time to help stamp out cruelty, and would never mistreat hounds or horses.”

Local artist and animal rights activist Diana Brook commented: “I think that it is abhorrent that it is still taking place in our countryside, that it is unlawful and that it is fully endorsed by our MP Simon Hart.

“He does not represent the majority of opinion and he certainly doesn’t represent me.”

Diana also mentioned a petition, which states: “There is a direct conflict of interest between our MP’s paid employment of a bloodsport lobbying organisation and his membership of the EFRA committee.” And is calling for him to leave either.

South Pembrokeshire Hunt master for a decade until 1997/8: Simon Hart MP, did not wish to comment on any current hunts but responded to the petition: “Sadly they clearly haven’t bothered to look at the rules of membership and declaration for select committees as if they had they would have realised that one of my committee colleagues is Vice President of the League Against Cruel Sports – and the committee is the richer for it!”

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Buckingham palace announces Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements

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PRINCE PHILIP’S royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The 99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government’s COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,″ the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honouring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honour Philip. The Australian Defence Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honoured for his service during the battle of Cape Mattapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honour Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.

“I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, travelled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honour the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

(Associated Press, London – by James Brooks and Tom Rayner)

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident

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POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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