Destiny... The name we gave to the 2 day old beagle pup we hand-reared and kick started my love and passion for hunting. Who would have guessed that 14 years later, I am preparing for one of the biggest days of my life. The Countryside Alliance Awards where I will be presented with a Rural Hero award.
Destiny was given her name as she was the last whelp remaining from her litter and at the time we thought it was destiny that she lasted as long as she did. Sadly she didn’t survive but my love of hunting stems from her, a tiny bundle of black and white fur. On my way home from the office the other evening a little thought came to me. What if my brother and I hadn’t been asked to hand rear that litter of two day old beagles for the local hunt? Where would I be now if hunting hadn’t become such a hugely important part of my life? I’m a huge believer in the old saying “everything happens for a reason” and it dawned on me that maybe destiny itself had bigger plans for me.
As the daughter or a Farm Worker and former three-day event groom, I spent my childhood surrounded by agriculture and horses but neither of my parents hunted and I didn’t really know anything about it. After hand rearing Destiny, I was well and truely bitten by the “Beagling Bug” and most of my teenage years were spent at the kennels of the RAC Beagles in the village I grew up in.
I’d go to the kennels and help wash down the yards most mornings before school and then return in the afternoon to walk out the hounds or help with the fallen stock in the flesh house. I was happy to do whatever I could to help from skinning to painting the kennels. I did it all.
What seemed so normal to me wasn’t so normal to the rest of the children in my year at school. Friends would go shopping or play football at the weekends, whereas I’d be beagling on a Saturday and doing kennels on a Sunday. People never really understood why I choose to do this and it was always difficult to explain in words why hunting meant so much to me.
Ever since I was at school I’d wanted to be able to show people what I saw in hunting, the atmosphere, the community spirit, the countryside and the way that the hounds worked and used to carry a disposable camera now and again and I still have some of the photos laying around at home! But for Opening Meet of the RAC Beagles in 2008, I borrowed a DSLR Camera from the office and took it out with me. From that day onwards I have rarely hunted without a camera. Photography became my way of publicising and supporting the Beagles and more recently other packs in the area that I am lucky to hunt with. I have also travelled further afield to photograph other hunts and to be able to appreciate the countryside that they operate in.
So in October 2012, I was absolutely over the moon to receive a letter from The Countryside Alliance, informing me that I had been nominated for the Countryside Alliance Awards. Unfortunately I didn’t get through to the regional finals. But just to be nominated and know that what I do is appreciated was an amazing boost.
Later in 2012, I took part in the quickfire Q&A section in the CA’s winter members magazine. One of the questions was “What led you to become a country sports photographer?” to which I answered
“I’ve always been proud of my lifestyle and wanted a way to be able to share it with others so I borrowed a DSLR camera from work and took it out Hunting. I grew up in the countryside surrounded by agriculture and horses; I was introduced to beagling at 13 by the kennel huntsman of the local beagles, so the countryside and hunting have been a massive influence on me. The comments I received after sharing the images were so positive I decided to take a camera with me every time I hunted. I love being able to show people what they’ve missed and inspire them to give country pursuits a go.”
What I didn’t mention was that photography itself had a greater meaning. Towards the end of 2008 9 the same year I picked up a DSLR), I was diagnosed with Depression and underwent weekly counselling which not many people knew and I rarely talk about. Hunting photography became a kind of therapy for me and gave me a reason to get out of the house and socialise. It also gave me something positive to focus on. (No pun intended) and this is one of the biggest reasons Kay Thompson Photography is here today. It has really turned my life around.
So tomorrow, as I head to the Awards reception at The House of Lords, it will be a reminder of what I overcame and just how far I have come both on a professional and personal level. To be named one of just three Rural Heroes for 2012, is something I could never have dreamed of and it is a complete honour.
So to go back to the very start of this blog, I guess I have Destiny to thank! And not forgetting those who nominated me in the awards and my family and friends who have supported me a long the way. I am truly grateful.