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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Nurse fronts pro-hunt campaign
Sarah Bell
The poster shows the different sides to the sport

An NHS nurse has become the new face of pro-hunting lobby the Countryside Alliance in an attempt to show the human side of the controversial sport.

Sarah Bell, from Warwickshire, appears on the organisation's poster campaign in two pictures - one dressed in hunting gear and the other in her nurse's uniform.

The hunting picture is accompanied by the slogan "Now they hate her?", while the picture in nurse's uniform says "Now they don't?".

Miss Bell has been a qualified children's nurse for more than three years but has ridden since the age of 12.

'Government priorities'

She now rides with the Worcestershire hunt.

The posters of Miss Bell will be put up this weekend at 400 sites across the country, near arterial roads.

Our campaign aim is to make people aware of what hunting is really about and move away from the caricature
Countryside Alliance

Miss Bell said she was asked to do the campaign by a friend but had personally felt the government had got its priorities wrong.

"I just see the other side of what I feel should be government priorities - the NHS, education and so on," she said.

"I cannot understand why the government should spend so much time on hunting when there are so many more important areas."

Miss Bell described the photo-shoot as "daunting" and added: "I am a nurse at the end of the day.

"We are just a normal group of people. Some think we are all Lord of the Manor - we are not, we are just a group of people in the countryside, managing the number of foxes."

'Clever advert'

The new campaign has been timed to coincide with the reintroduction of the Hunting Bill, which is due to reach its final report and third reading stage in the Commons on Monday.

The bill is designed to ban hare-coursing and stag-hunting and allows fox-hunting to continue under strict licence.

A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: "Our campaign aim is to make people aware of what hunting is really about and move away from the caricature.

"We have had everything on hold since the middle of March when the last Bill left committee."

He added that Miss Bell's employers allowed her to take part in the campaign - as long as the hospital where she works was not disclosed.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA called the campaign a "last-ditch attempt" to sway people in favour of hunting.

She said: "We do acknowledge it is a very clever advert, a very clever approach getting an ordinary person into the advert.

"But the bottom line is hunting is cruel and that is why we want to end it - that reality will never change.

"It does not matter whether it is a doctor, or a nurse, hunting is still cruel."

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