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Huntsmen and women from Leicestershire and further afield gathered at the weekend to pay tribute to a 54-year-old member of the Fernie Hunt who died in a horse-riding accident last week.
William Graham, formerly of Lubenham, near Market Harborough, fell from his dark bay horse as he jumped a timber fence in fields between Saddington and Mowsley on Wednesday, January 31.
An inquest on the father-of-three’s death has been opened and adjourned.
On Saturday, people from the hunting fraternity gathered for a day’s hunting near Hallaton, in his memory.
Philip Cowen, joint-master of the Fernie Hunt, said: “Many people who are connected with hunting in Leicestershire and further afield came together for a special day’s hunting which was dedicated to Will.
“ There is an incredible bond which runs throughout those who are involved with the hunt, whether as riders, followers or supporters and the moving tributes on that day will last long in all our memories.
“Will was a true gentleman and we all owe him so much for a life which has been cut short far too soon.”
He added: “Will fell from his dark bay horse as he jumped a timber fence mid-way between Saddington and Mowsley. The horse was not injured in the fall.
“Although born in Scotland, Will had lived locally for many years. He leaves a wife, Lucy, and their nine-year-old daughter, with two older children from a previous marriage.
“Will’s tragic death whilst out hunting with the Fernie last week has stunned and shocked us all. Sadly, he died when his horse fell on top of him at a fence which has been jumped on numerous occasions previously, close to Saddington village.
“There are no words to describe such a devastating loss particularly for his family, but also a great many other people in the locality who knew him so well.
“Our hearts and thoughts go out to them all at such a sad time. Will was a constant source of energy, passion, enthusiasm and determination in whatever he turned his hand to – whether in his line of business, when on the sportsfield or when relaxing at home. His loss to our community is immeasurable.”
He added: “Will was an accomplished and very competent rider who has followed the Fernie hounds for about 15 years.
“He particularly enjoyed both the social side of the sport, and the excitement which can be provided in both jumping natural obstacles and watching the hounds as they use their scenting abilities to follow the lines of the trail across natural country and open farmland.”
Polly Portwin, of the Countryside Alliance said: “Will was a great supporter and representative of the Alliance and we extend our deepest sympathies to Lucy, their family and all those closest to them.”
Chris Parker, also a joint-master of the Fernie Hunt said: “Sadly Will lost his life whilst enjoying a sport that he loved, and to which he has been a huge contributor both directly and behind the scenes for many years.
“He was clearly enjoying himself on the day in question right up to the moment that this dreadful accident occurred.
“Words do not adequately convey our emotions, or the profound degree of sympathy which we all feel for his wife, daughter and their wider family.
“He will be greatly missed by all his friends in not only the hunting world, but from many other aspects of life as well. He was also a hugely successful businessman, and he particularly enjoyed skiing and sailing.”
The inquest on the Mayfair, London, based investment management company director was opened at Leicester Town Hall and was adjourned, pending reports until April 23.