The Melton Hunt Club was formed in 1955 to raise money for the improvement of the Leicestershire side of the Belvoir country. Colonel James Hanbury, then Master of the Belvoir, was Chairman and Lance Newton, who was the founder and driving force, became Honorary Secretary. Other original members were Dick Black, Jack Drake, Jimmy Elwell, Tim Molony, Claude Manchester and Dr Tom Connors. It was Lance Newton’s vision that the Club should help and encourage the young (and not so young) from other hunting countries throughout the land to come and experience the thrill of hunting in Leicestershire.
At the Club’s Annual General meeting, in October 1956, it was decided to invite the Quorn and Cottesmore Hunts to join the MHC. It was stipulated that any money raised, after expenses, would be divided between the three Hunts to be spent on country improvements within a 10 mile radius of Melton and not deposited in general Hunt funds.
The first Cross Country Ride was held in February 1956 from the Greenall family’s Waltham House to Buckminster and was won by Pat Newton, who also won in 1957 when the Ride took place in thick fog from Swallow Hole to the winning post at Garthorpe. The 1958 Ride took place in the Quorn country at Nether Broughton and the first Cross Country Dinner was held at The Red Lion as a ‘thank you’ to the Farmers who had hosted the Ride. The Ride and Dinner have been run annually ever since with one or two exceptions due to bad weather and Foot and Mouth disease. Under Jockey Club Rules the Cross Country has to be referred to as a Ride, with prizes ‘in kind’, and not a Race, in order not to jeopardise the Point to Point.
The Hon Urky Newton joined the Committee in 1959 and took over as Hon Secretary on Lance Newton’s death in 1969. She was assisted by Mrs Didi Powles until 1985 when Mrs Sally Hudson took over as assistant. Urky Newton retired in 1994 when Sally Hudson became Hon Secretary, and Sally in turn retired in 2008 when Poppet Boone of Cold Overton took over. Poppet stepped down in 2009. The current Hon Secretary is Sally Thornton, wife of former Belvoir huntsman Martin Thornton.
Colonel James Hanbury was Chairman until 1967 when Major Bob Hoare took over and served until his death in 1977. Captain David Keith took the Chair from 1977 to 1982 when he was succeeded by Nicholas Turner. Nick was a very successful Chairman for the next 25 years and retired in 2008. He was succeeded by Joey Newton, son of Urky and Lance. With Joey’s hunting and racing background the Club is in excellent hands and retains the Newton family connection. He has hunted in Leicestershire all his life and is a recent Master of the Belvoir. He won the Aintree Foxhunters twice and Point to Point raced for many years. He is Senior Steward at Liverpool and Stewards at Newmarket and other racecourses.