With Boxing Day meets having record numbers of people turning out we should really be trying to get on the right side of the public and encourage them to come out more. Heartening as it is to see so many people on Boxing and New Years Day, we rarely see them on a grey, wet Saturday in the middle of January.
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Surely it is our responsibility as regular followers and subscribers to encourage people and make them feel welcome should they turn up at a meet. I know many newcomers are perhaps eyed with a little suspicion when they are stood around at a meet, especially if they are on the peripheries and not talking to any of the regulars. We have all experienced that first day at school feeling when you are largely ignored by the groups of established friends. So as well rounded, educated and polite adults we should all make an effort to make newcomers feel welcome.
Who knows who they are, or what an asset they could be to your local hunt. Because I am quite confident that if they are not acknowledged once they won’t be seen twice! That could mean the potential loss of a much needed puppy walker or the friend of so and so who owns the land down the road that would be fabulous to ride across.
I recently went to a Monday meet of the Quorn down at Rempstone. Luckily we knew a few people at the meet to say hello to, but we haven’t followed this wonderful pack for many years. I can honestly say that we could not have been made to feel more welcome. We were plied with warm sausage rolls and some very strong punch from the moment we got there. And everyone spoke to us. Not knowing the finer points of the country we were told where the best viewing places were, which was the quickest way to get to the next covert and where the best places were to stay up in The Lakes when we went to follow the fell packs. This we were told in no uncertain terms we had to do before the end of this season! Phone numbers were swapped and invites extended to park up in a neighbouring farm for the next Mondays meet.
Being brutally honest, I was surprised at the level of friendship and warmth extended to us that Monday a few weeks ago. I perhaps expected a certain amount of aloofness from one of the country’s premier packs. This was most definitely not the case and the foundations for some firm friendships were laid.
So it leads me to think if we all talk to everyone that turns up at the meet, or even give a friendly smile or a good morning we will see them again and get a record turnout on a wet, grey January day!