YOUNG and old lined high streets in the Vale and north Cotswolds during the festive season to show their support at the annual hunt meets.

People gathered in their hundreds to witness the centuries- old tradition unfold in all of its glory.

More people than ever before lined the streets of Pershore on Boxing Day as about 60 huntsmen and women prepared to take part in the traditional hunt.

The crowds flocked to Broad Street in the town centre to watch the Croome and West Warwickshire fox hounds, which is more than 100 years old.

Joint master of the hunt Di Ralph said she was delighted to so many people supporting the hunt.

“We draw the rural community out,” she said.

“Hunts do a lot for the community, knitting the rural community together. It is fantastic to see so many people out. It seems we get more every year.”

In her speech to the crowd, she thanked the huntsmen and women, supporters, farmers and landowners and the crowds and said they would be hunting within the law.

Mum Clare Cottrill was with her daughter, Perdy, who was on a small horse joining the hunt for the first time. Four-year-old Perdy said she was very excited to take part on her horse snowy.

Ms Cottrill added: “This is the first time she has come on horseback. We have always followed the hunt.”

Town councillor Richard Grantham was amongst the crowds. He said: “I come down every year. It seems to be bigger this year and more people. This is a great thing for the town of Pershore.”

Despite hundreds of people supporting the hunt, one woman was escorted away after shouting at some of the supporters. PC John Hunter said she was asked to leave the area.

Mrs Ralph said there was not often trouble in the town. “Pershore is always a friendly town. There is a lot of support for the local hunt here.”

Meanwhile, crowds descended on Broadway for the traditional Boxing Day meet of the North Cotswold Hunt.

More than 130 horses turned out to the annual event, the biggest in the hunt’s calendar, which started at the Kennels, in Kennel Lane.

Hunt master Nigel Peel said it was one of the biggest crowds they have ever had.

“We had a terrific crowd,” he said. “It was as big a crowd as we’ve ever had.

Nearly three deep all the way down from Kennel Lane to the Swan.

“There might have been several thousand. It all went very well and everybody had an extremely nice time.”

Large crowds also greeted the hunt’s New Year’s Day meet on Tuesday at the Lygon Arms, Chipping Campden, at 10.45am. The hunt made its way to the Campden House estate before finishing at Weston sub Edge.

With the races cancelled at Cheltenham due to the waterlogged ground, more crowds than normal were expected to attend.

Meanwhile the Heythrop Hunt, near Chipping Norton, was also due to meet on Tuesday to celebrate the New Year in the square in Stow.