I am a university student in the north of England and shocked at the way in which my views on country sports and the rural way of life have engendered intolerance and hostility from some other students.
I discovered that others sharing similar views to mine had endured similar experiences so it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to seek out like-minded others at my university, and try and change the perceptions of those hostile to our ‘culture’.
As a result, a group of undergraduates got together and set up a new student society – the ‘Countryside Society’ – which has gone from strength to strength in the year since its creation. After encountering many obstructions and problems, we finally became a society. Help and support came from the regional Countryside Alliance, as well as our local MP.
We ended the 2012-13 academic year with a sell-out Caledonian Ball, held at a local golf club, which raised well into four figures for rural charities. This event attracted people from different universities, local farmers, hunts, wildfowling groups and even politicians! It was a truly superb night. We were very lucky to have been sponsored by Centrica, and many generous national and local businesses donated fantastic raffle prizes, which contributed to an amazing evening. The next Charity Caledonian Ball is on March 1, 2014.
My reason for sharing this is that it would be great to see more Countryside Societies setting up at different universities, or more students getting involved in country related societies. It really only takes a few people to get the ball rolling and I would be very willing to help. So, if you are going to university this autumn, or you have children who are students to whom this might appeal, or you would like to find out more about our events, can I suggest that anyone interested contacts me, in the first instance throughcountryside@lancaster. ac.uk.
Catherine Bennett, via email