DESPITE a frosty chill in the air, thousands gathered to be part of the traditional Boxing Day hunts around Worcestershire.

Around 2,000 people turned out in Pershore to watch the Croome and West Warwickshire Hunt meet in Broad Street this morning, after the hunt also took part in a Christmas Eve meet in Upton while children got the chance to ride on horses and ponies when the Worcestershire Hunt met in Himbleton on Christmas Eve.

Around 50 horses, followed by hounds, rode in to Broad Street at around 10.45am where the crowds gathered to cheer them on.

Addressing the crowds, master huntsman Ben Skilbeck, who recently took up the role within the group, said: "I was warned about the atmosphere here in Pershore and your support is warmly received.

"I don't want to bore you with politics that I'm sure you've all had around the Christmas table like I did, but next February marks the 10th season of the (fox hunting) ban. For Christmas I said that this year I wanted for these hounds and their puppies to hunt within the law.

"I hope that in 100 years from now that these hounds will still meet in Pershore and the horses will be as well cared for as they are today.

"It means a lot to feel that we have the support of the community."

Following the speech the hunt rode off towards Croome, following the trail of fox scents to ensure the hunt remained within the boundaries of the law.

For more on this story and pictures, see tomorrow's Worcester News.