Report of the Edinburgh March by Jane Barribal of farmtalking.At 9.15 this morning I boarded the coach in the village along with local supporters and we set off for Edinburgh. It was a damp day, drizzling rain, as the Scots would say, 'dreak' weather!
I have never been on any demo before so it was quite a new experience for me and not a little unnerving as I'm not too keen on large crowds. However, I was among friends who assured me they wouldn't lose me and on the whole they didn't!
I have not seen the news or heard the estimates of the crowd there, but it was certainly many thousands. Soon after our arrrival I spotted the Cornish banner held aloft by Simon and Pam Burbage, who with over a 100 people had chartered an aircraft and flown up from Bournemouth, to as Simon said 'support the Scots' They had a very early start - 4am!
I was delighted to actually meet them, although I feel I know them well after so many months of chats on the telephone!
There were others supporting the March from many parts of the Country, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Wales and the Midlands too. All country life was represented, and although organised by the Scottish Countryside Alliance it was not only the proposed ban on hunting that was a matter of most concern.
Most of the people I spoke to seemed to feel that too much of life in the countryside was under threat and the people involved were being dragooned into submission by a Government that had little knowledge or understanding of the practicalites involved, let alone the effects proposed changes would have upon those who live and work in the countryside. The Government's recent handling of FMD being a prime example of flawed policy and science leading to utter devastation in many areas.
We were counted and split into groups of a thousand, each group to be led by a policeman and piper! It was while the crowd converged to the counting gates that I got 'lost'! Fortunately a local farmer, President of the Berwickshire NFU, spotted me and I managed to tag along with him, a tall man, who soon managed to spot the rest of out 'gang'! Our group was the third to set off and looking back as we reached Princes street we were followed by thousands more. In fact as we reached the dispersal point and made our way back towards the coach park we were amazed to see some having only just set off from the start! Among them another farmer I recognised from Northumberland, He had made a difficult journey by train which had broken down! Although very delayed he was so pleased to have finally made it and joined one of the last groups to leave the field. We cheered them on and it was lovely to see so many different banners displayed representing all sorts of country persuits and businesses. As the last of them passed by we decided to drop in to the 'Greyfriars Bobby' for a 'wee dram' to warm us up!
There we met serveral farmers from Northumberland, including one who had lost his sheep to the cull only a few weeks ago. We chatted for a while and then realising we were about to miss our coach, we had to say hasty good-byes!
It was wonderful to meet so many friendly people and realise that they all cared so much for each other and our way of life that they were willing to travel five or five-hundred miles to Edinburgh to support this demonstration.