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Monday, March 2, 1998 Published at 04:58 GMT


Country life tests city limits
image: [ Determined to make their voices heard ]
Determined to make their voices heard

It has drawn tens of thousands of people from all over Britain, but almost everyone had a different idea why they were taking part in the countryside rally in London.

[ image: Mary Hayter:
Mary Hayter: "It's discrimination"
"I'm taking part because of the hypocrisy of city people," said one.

"Because we must fight discrimination," said a woman sporting a hunting hat and a sign that read "Ludlow supports hunting."

One determined eight-year-old said he was taking part because the treatment of the countryside was simply "abominable".

[ image: Here for the countryside...]
Here for the countryside...
Others, mostly children, were not quite sure why they were there.

Asked what the sign he was carrying meant, 13-year-old Alex Persse shrugged his shoulders and said: "Dunno. But I'm here to fight for the countryside."

But there was one thing which united them: their determination to make their voices heard.

The final marchers drifted through the gates of Hyde Park nearly five hours after the first groups had arrived at the finish.

London politicians simply do not understand the complex issues of the countryside, they said.

While each had his cause - hunting, fishing, beef on the bone, civil liberties, green-belt development - they all said what they wanted were informed people to make informed decisions.

Sheep and beef farmer Roger Price, of Brecon, South Wales, said the march was an opportunity to highlight the "hypocrisy" of some city-dwellers.

"How can you walk over the homeless in London and then tell us that we can't go hunting," he said.

"Farming needs a pest control to survive. It is all interlinked."

[ image: The Normans: making a point with toy crocodiles]
The Normans: making a point with toy crocodiles
Robert Norman and his wife Deirdre, fruit growers from Cambridgeshire, travelled to the march brandishing home-made crocodiles.

"Don't bite the hand that feeds you, that's our message," said Mr Norman.

"We are here because the government is offering no support to English fruit growers."

For beef farmer Mitchell Growcott, the old adage, action speaks louder than words, could not have been more true.

Even by farming standards, the 21-year-old Welshman's day had started early. He woke up at 3am to begin the three hour journey to London.

"I only got three hours sleep because I was up late cleaning out the cattle," he said.

Ian Linney, a magazine publisher from Southwell, Nottinghamshire, said: "Having spent six years fighting the Germans because they were trying to steal our feedom, we are now fighting for freedom from the nanny state."

Hill farmer Wyndham Morgan, of south-east Wales, was the most philosphical.

"It's probably all a waste of time, but we have got to show our strength," he said.

However, Freddie Hamilton from Montacute, Somerset showed typical fighting spirit. "It has been very worthwhile," he said.

"We are prepared to come back and do the same thing again if the government does not listen."

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