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Marathon effort raises £50,000 for the Countryside Alliance

This year’s five-strong Countryside Alliance team for the Flora London Marathon has raised an amazing £50,000 for the Alliance’s campaigning work.

This year’s marathon was a wet one but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the Alliance’s team with all five, Sam Butler, Josh Stratton, Will Spencer, Charlie Watts and David Fitch-Peyton, making it round the gruelling 26.2 mile course in less than four and a half hours.

Sam, who is the Chairman of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting and has run the Marathon for the Alliance for the last three years, said: "We all really wanted to beat last year’s fundraising total of £42,000 but this year we had one person less than last year so we weren’t sure that we’d manage it. We’re all thrilled to have raised so much."

The 2004 team was:

Sam Butler: Sam chairs the campaign for the freedom to hunt. His resolve strengthens to see a solution, which benefits both a way of life and wildlife management. "No to unjust law. Yes to be free of political prejudice". This is Sam’s third consecutive London Marathon.

Josh Stratton: Josh is a farmer in Wiltshire and is also Master and huntsman of the Wiltshire and Infantry Beagles. Both he and his wife hunt and Josh has done so since he was 14yrs old. He has previously hunted the Marlborough and the Stoke Hill Beagles and also is a very keen shot.

Will Spencer: Will is a surveyor in the city working for Strutt and Parker, and lives on the family farm in Northamptonshire. Will has hunted since the age of four with the Pytchley Foxhounds of which his father has been master of for the past 14 years. Will also enjoys shooting and playing Polo and has a handicap of 1 Goal.

Charlie Watts: Charlie comes from Dorset where he has been Huntsman for the Cattistock Foxhounds for 15 seasons. He was previously whipper-in for the Quorn Hunt for 12 seasons. Charlie devotes his life to looking after the hounds and hunting, but also enjoys following horse racing whenever he can.

David Fitch-Peyton: David runs a large stud farm in Saudi Arabia producing over a hundred two year olds a year. He has been involved with racing and breeding all his life, in the USA, New Zealand and Canada, as well as in England. David enjoys foxhunting and beagling when he is in England and he hunts with the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale and the Cattistock, and beagles with The Park with whom he previously hunted during the mid '90s.

Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart commented: "This is a fantastic achievement for all five of them. Not only did they run 26 miles through the streets of London on a rainy April day but, by doing so, they’ve raised an amazing £50,000 for the Alliance.

"The money they have raised will be ploughed straight back into political lobbying and promotional initiatives which will keep rural issues at the forefront of opinion formers’ minds in 2004 and beyond."

The Countryside Alliance is now looking for runners to take part in the 2005 London Marathon. If you think you can help us beat the £60,000 for 2005, then call Alicia Billyeald at the Countryside Alliance on 01672 519472.