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SIGN THE PETITION: Drop The Newt from the Chelsea Flower Show

The world famous Chelsea Flower Show, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), is running between 21 and 25 May. Its headline sponsor is luxury hotel The Newt – a business that supports hunting. Protect the Wild is asking our readers to sign a petition, calling on the RHS to cut its association with the hotel. A demonstration will also be held outside the flower show on 25th May.

The Newt allows the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale (BSV) – arguably the worst hunt in the entire country – to meet on its land. We have repeatedly contacted the boutique hotel, asking it to disassociate itself from the hunt, but have received no reply. The hotel’s management has even ignored an 11,000-strong petition, calling on it to ban the hunt.

Protect the Wild argues that The Newt’s involvement with the BSV is in direct conflict with the values of the Chelsea Flower Show and its mission of promoting “gardening for good.”

Drone shot image of the BSV Hunt tearing a fox to shreds

Unashamedly associating itself with fox killers

The Newt, located in Somerset, is an establishment that prides itself as being the ‘World’s Best Boutique Hotel’. With its luxurious offerings, picturesque gardens and fruit orchards, the hotel has crafted an image for itself as a business that is respectful of the land and all creatures living on it. Its garden cafe serves seasonal food, grown on site, while its woodland provides much-needed habitat for native wildlife.

So why, then, is the luxury hotel willing to associate itself with a group of violent hunt thugs who get their kicks out of terrorising foxes? The BSV has received a lot of media, police and court attention recently. In October 2023, Steve Paul, terrierman for the hunt, pleaded guilty to assault after throwing urine into the face of female hunt saboteur. In January 2024, the hunt was suspended by hunting’s so-called ‘governing body’, the British Hound Sports Association (BHSA), after its hounds were caught tearing up a fox. And in April 2024, BSV member Charlie Mayo – son of hunt master and BSV company director Anthony Mayo – was found guilty of assaulting a hunt saboteur and causing actual bodily harm. The saboteur was so badly injured that he was hospitalised.

On top of this, a study by Protect the Wild of the 2022/23 hunting season revealed that nearly a third of the BSV’s observed meets resulted in the pursuit and killing of a fox. 

Chelsea Flower Show’s headline sponsor

The Newt became the flower show’s headline sponsor in 2022 for four years, until at least 2025. Meanwhile, its estate is an RHS partner garden. The hotel states that in sponsoring the flower show:

“We share [the RHS’s] belief in the power of gardening for good, and hope the sponsorship will support their important charitable work.”

Quite how the business can talk about “gardening for good” while hosting a hunt that tears up foxes – subjecting mammals to an agonising death – is unfathomable.

Meanwhile, the RHS describes itself as being “synonymous with excellence, quality and trust.” It believes that it is in a unique position to harness its reputation to help address the biodiversity crisis. It also states that foxes “can be considered part of the biodiversity gardens support.”

Protect the Wild founder Rob Pownall stated:

“It is incredibly disappointing that the RHS would want to align itself in any way with cruelty and illegal hunting practices. It not only undermines the show’s commitment to promoting a positive and ethical relationship with nature but also tarnishes its esteemed reputation. The Newt in Somerset is set to be the headline sponsor not only for the 2024 show but 2025 too, and we are calling on the RHS to sever all ties with immediate effect.”

Sign the petition! Join the demonstration!

If you, too, are disappointed that the RHS is associating itself with a business that supports hunting, please sign our petition, calling on the charity to disassociate itself from the Newt.

And if you are free on 25th May, join us in person. Pownall said:

“We will be holding a peaceful demonstration outside the gates of the Chelsea Flower Show on Saturday 25 May to voice our disapproval with the show for allowing the sponsorship of the hunt-supporting The Newt in Somerset. We encourage people to come along to help us on the day”.

Sign our petition and open letter to the RHS here.

You can also politely complain to the RHS about its association with The Newt here.

You can find more information about the demonstration on Facebook.

Add your name to the 11,000-strong petition, calling on The Newt to ban the BSV Hunt here.