AGE was no barrier for one rider taking part in the Boxing Day Hunts.

Ivor Stephens was suited and booted in Ledbury and riding on at 93.

His grandchildren were among the crowd, which ran into the thousands, who turned out to support the 80 horses and riders in the town.

Andy Ward, from The Talbot, said Mr Stephens, who has just received the French Legion of Honour Medal for his bravery in the second world war, is one of the "fittest and bravest" nonagenarians you are likely to meet.

A smaller crowd turned out in Kington to see off the Radnor and West Herefordshire Hunt.

But the 40 riders, led by Senior Joint Master Robert Jones, were no less enthusiastic as they charged up Church Street, especially after receiving some ginger wine from the Burton Hotel owner, John Richardson.

And over in Leominster, the North Herefordshire Hunt set off from Corn Square to the delight of hundreds.

Charlotte Cooper, from the Countryside Alliance, said the enthusiasm for hunting shows no signs of waning – despite more than a decade of the Hunting Act.

She added that "at least 250,000 people" lined the streets and market places of the UK on Boxing Day for the meets of the 300 plus registered hunts in the UK.

Her views differed from a report published by The Independent.

The newspaper quoted from the pollsters, Ipsos MORI, which claimed that 83 per cent of the public say fox hunting should not be made legal again.

This figure, according to the national paper, was up from 72 per cent when the question was asked in 2008.