Farewell tribute to a much loved huntsman

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A MEMORIAL service was held on Monday at All Saints, Wing, for Albert Buckle, a renowned huntsman of the Whaddon Chase, who has died in Buckingham, aged 95.

Mr Buckle, who lived at Stewkley, was huntsman with the Whaddon Chase for 26 seasons from 1954 to 1980. Known as the Londoners’ Leicestershire, the Whaddon Chase was widely considered the ‘smart’ hunt, attracting many well-heeled members, including the cowboy star Wyatt Earp and petroleum magnate Nubar Gulbenkian.

Mr Buckle served as huntsman with the Whaddon Chase under the Mastership of the BBC’s equestrian commentator Dorian Williams, a working relationship that Williams always referred to as an equal partnership. When foxhunting came under threat, Williams devolved many of his public relations duties to Mr Buckle, who met the challenge with characteristic courtesy and good humour, always wishing anti-hunt saboteurs a cheery ‘good morning’ and touching his cap. In his autobiography, Williams described Mr Buckle as “remarkably talented, an exceptional ambassador for foxhunting and a very great friend”.

Albert Buckle was born in Bicester on April 2, 1915, the son of a farmer, butcher and bookmaker. After attending Bicester Grammar School, the young Albert trained as a butcher, a trade he disliked, except for the horse-drawn deliveries. After three years, his father let him work as a groom with the Bicester Hunt, hoping that it would help his son “get horses out of his system.”.

After serving in the 15th/19th Hussars in the the Second World War, Mr Buckle worked as whipper-in for the Hertforshire and Duke of Buccleuch’s Hunts, moving to Whaddon Chase as huntsman in 1954.

On his retirement in 1980, Mr Buckle was persuaded to stay on as kennel huntsman by the Joint Master, former showjumper David Barker. He finally retired in 1983, when he and his wife moved to Stewkley.

Mr Buckle also served as assistant steward at Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show for 50 years, until the age of 90, and continued playing golf three times a week until shortly before his death.

Mr Buckle’s son Martyn described his father as “always upbeat, a great raconteur, a real character, whose boots and shoes were always immaculate”.

Patrick Martin, current huntsman with the Whaddon Chase, said Mr Buckle was “one of nature’s gentleman, absolutely in tune with landowners and farmers, with a huge affinity with animals.”

Albert Buckle married his wife Cath in 1948 and was widowed in 1987. He is survived by his son Martyn, his daughter Diana Roads and her two children.