One hundred years on, the poppy remains a token of remembrance of the Great War — among hunting folk just as much as elsewhere, says Catherine Austen
“HANG on!” Edwina cries as her husband Frank makes for the door. “Don’t forget this.”
Frank pauses and she pins a red poppy on to his lapel.
“Now, there’s a flask of soup and sandwiches on the back seat. Here’s Gnasher’s lead. Have a lovely day.”
Frank climbs slowly into his old Daihatsu Fourtrak, and Gnasher, an elderly Border terrier whose bite is far worse than his bark, hops on to the front seat beside his master. They are off to the opening meet of the Smashington
Vale, which has been held at Waterloo Hall since 1946.
Frank was a boy on a pony then, but he remembers how Lady Waterloo kept the hounds going during the war — and he remembers the faces that weren’t there after the war. He notes with approval the amount of people wearing poppies on their hunting coats. He takes a glass of port from a tray proffered by a smiling teenager, and Gnasher wolfs down a dropped sausage roll, growling at a foxhound who had the same idea. They leave before the end of the meet and drive up the hill behind the hall to a spot where Frank can watch hounds draw the first covert. He sees the trail-layer slip away, well in front, and hears that spine-tingling sound of music as hounds pick up the scent of his trail.
“Lest we forget,” he murmurs thoughtfully to himself. “How lucky we are.”