YOUNG and old braved the cold yesterday for the traditional Boxing Day hunts.

Hundreds turned out in Droitwich to see around 110 horses and 39 hounds gather at the Raven Hotel, in Victoria Square, at 11am for the Worcestershire Hunt’s annual meet.

Addressing the crowd, senior master of the hounds David Palmer said this year marked the 40th anniversary of the hunt meeting at the hotel, but that it could be the last time as plans are currently in progress to redevelop the 19th century building.

“We have to act within the hunting law nowadays and out in the countryside trails have been set,” he said.

“We are going to keep going. If you keep coming we shall be here for a long time yet.”

Mayor Tom Noyes was also present to see the hunt off at 11am and thanked everyone who turned out for their support.

“Eighty per cent of the country say fox hunting should be banned. I don’t agree with that,” he said.

“Long may it continue.”

Joint master of the foxhounds, Adrian Ward, said the hunt would be following a trail through Hanbury Park and further afield.

“We’ve got a great turnout,” he said.

“It’s very good to see in what is a very difficult time.”

Hundreds of eager spectators also massed onto Broad Street, in Pershore, to catch a glimpse of the horses and ponies taking centre stage before setting off.

Mr Ed Righton, field master of the Croome and West Warwickshire Hunt, said: “This is one of the biggest hunts yet, it’s a great turn out.

“It’s a tradition that has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years and it’s great to take part in it. The turnout would be even bigger were it still legal though.

“I’m glad to see there is still support for hunting as it is a very British tradition.”

Around 70 horses and 30 hounds set off from the town centre at 11.30am, following the trail of fox scents ensure the hunt remained within the boundaries of the law.

Joining the hunting effort was a bird of prey, as according to the Hunting Act 2004, it is legal to use dogs to flush out wild mammals for the birds of prey to hunt.

The riders led their horses through Drakes Broughton, Wyre Piddle and the surrounding countryside areas.

On Christmas Eve, the Croome and West Warwickshire Hunt was in Upton upon Severn for the town’s traditional meeting.

Meanwhile, as around 250,000 people gathered for around 250 hunts up and down the country, the Countryside Alliance called on the coalition Government to make good on its promise to amend the law to make it easier to flush out and shoot foxes.

The organisation’s executive chairman, Barney White-Spunner, said: “In three and a half years the Government has done nothing to address this illiberal, unjust and divisive law.

"The arguments for repeal or replacement of the ban are unarguable. Proposals to amend the Act backed by science have been brought forward and there is solid support in parliament. Doing nothing is not an acceptable option.

“Hunting is a totemic issue and even a small improvement to the current situation would go a long way to persuading rural people that the government is in step with them.”