A HUNT has broken with tradition as a way of highlighting the value of pubs to rural communities.

The East Essex Hunt started the day with a glass of beer, rather than the customary port, at the Cherry Tree pub, in Belchamp St Paul.

Joint master Stephen Norris said the idea was prompted by the closure of the Kings Head in Pebmarsh, where the hunt had planned to meet later in the year.

He said: “Pubs are an important part of the community and we are trying to show solidarity with the village pub.”

About 35 people rode in the hunt, with another 30 to 40 following on.

Since the foxhunting ban, the hunt follows a trail, laid by a scented rag, dragged through the fields.