Hunt hero Black­more and Spark­ford Vale chair­man Richard de Pelet

The gen­er­ous bon viveur who en­sures the whole field has a won­der­ful time

Horse & Hound - - Contents - By TESSA WAUGH

IN 41 years as chair­man of the Black­more and Spark­ford Vale, Richard de Pelet has oiled the wheels of this suc­cess­ful Dorset pack with his gen­eros­ity, en­thu­si­asm and in­ter­est in peo­ple (he knows ev­ery­one).

Ev­ery year, in the week be­fore the open­ing meet, he and his wife Is­abel host the an­nual farm­ers’ drinks party and wel­come up to 450 peo­ple into their home, In­wood. The open­ing meet is held at In­wood and the hounds are on the es­tate, which is 90% grass­land in the cen­tre of the hunt coun­try, ev­ery three weeks through­out the sea­son. The doors of the house, with its in­cred­i­ble col­lec­tion of art, are open for end­less hunt­ing-re­lated par­ties through­out the year.

An­thony Mayo, who has been a master of the Black­more and Spark­ford Vale since 2006, says Richard’s skills as a “peo­ple per­son” are se­cond to none.

“If Richard hosts a party, he makes sure he speaks to ev­ery­one there, he at­tends ev­ery hunt func­tion and if there are ever prob­lems with the hunt at large he deals with them qui­etly and well,” says An­thony.

Richard is a glass half-full per­son who has rel­ished all as­pects of his role in a part of Bri­tain where fox­hunt­ing is dyed in the wool.

“I’ve en­joyed be­ing chair­man im­mensely,” he declares in his boom­ing bari­tone. “There have been easy times when ev­ery­thing is go­ing well, and dif­fi­cult times when ev­ery­thing is go­ing wrong,

but I have been lucky enough to have a very sup­port­ive com­mit­tee and the farm­ers, sub­scribers, mem­bers and fol­low­ers have been ex­tremely kind and sup­port­ive too.”

In the course of his chair­man­ship Richard has worked with four hunts­men — Tony Austin, Robin Cur­sham, Chris Bould and Mark Dog­grell — and 23 mas­ters.

Michael Fel­ton, who joined the mas­ter­ship in 1992, is his long­est-serv­ing master to date.

He says: “Richard’s USP is his abil­ity to make ev­ery­one feel wel­come. At ev­ery meet he has an ex­tra­or­di­nary but ef­fec­tive pro­to­col where he goes around and says ‘hello’ to ev­ery­one. If some­one new ar­rives he makes sure he in­tro­duces them to ev­ery­one.”

Michael also ac­knowl­edges the part that In­wood has played over the years.

“Richard is a born bon viveur and he has been very gen­er­ous with In­wood,” he ex­plains. “He loves wel­com­ing peo­ple into his home with all its trea­sures.”

Of hunt­ing in gen­eral, Richard says: “I en­joy the rid­ing al­though I don’t jump any more. I like the drama of it, the so­cial side of it and the par­ties that go with it.

I’m not a hound man but I’m do­ing what I can do, try­ing to be a gen­eral or a field mar­shal and look af­ter the peo­ple so that they will look af­ter the rest of the hunt.”

He adds: “I owe ev­ery­thing to hunt­ing be­cause if my fa­ther hadn’t been in­ter­ested in hunt­ing he wouldn’t have in­her­ited In­wood. He was a very good trustee who con­tin­ued the tra­di­tion of hunt­ing es­tab­lished by Miss Guest [the pre­vi­ous owner] and I have tried to do the same.”

‘At ev­ery meet, he has a pro­to­col to go round and say “hello” to ev­ery­one’ michael fel­ton mfh

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.