THOUSANDS of people turned out to support traditional hunt meetings across Worcestershire today.

In Droitwich, spectators cheered as huntsmen and women, wearing the red riding jackets, gathered for their annual Boxing Day meet outside the Raven Hotel.

Members of the Worcestershire Hunt were forced to leave the horses behind after deciding that the icy ground was too dangerous, but were still on hand to meet the public with the fox hounds.

Joint hunt master David Palmer said: “It’s disappointing that we have had to come on foot. It was a last minute decision not to bring the horses, but it’s just too icy and there was a good chance that someone would have an accident."

Many supporters hope that this year’s meet will have been the last before the controversial fox hunting ban is repealed.

The ban on hunting with dogs came into force in February 2005 - eight years after MP for Worcester Michael Foster put forward a private members bill for a ban.

But the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance believes that a change in Government in the next year could lead to a repeal of the law.

“We are hoping that this could be the last Boxing Day meet before it all changes,” added Mr Palmer.

It is estimated that more than 300 hunts took place across the UK today.

For more details and pictures see your Worcester News on Monday.