The Commons Eight: polo colleagues and hunt friends

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Indy Politics

Otis Ferry

Most children of rock stars grow up to be musicians or models, but Otis Ferry, son of the Roxy Music singer Bryan, has chosen a very different career path: becoming Britain's youngest master of the foxhounds.

Yesterday, his friends from the South Shropshire Hunt, where he was appointed joint hunt master in May, had nothing but praise for the 21-year-old.

Mr Ferry, the eldest son of Bryan and the former model Lucy, grew up in the Sussex countryside and experienced his first hunt at the age of 15.

After leaving his public school, Marlborough, at the age of 16, Mr Ferry joined the Middleton Hunt in North Yorkshire as an apprentice whipper-in.

In 2002, he was arrested late at night at Tony Blair's home in Trimdon, Co Durham, which he had been planning to cover in pro-hunting stickers. Last weekend, he was spotted clutching a box of eggs at a pro-hunt protest at the Prime Minister's constituency home in Sedgefield.

In an interview with The Field magazine in April, Mr Ferry said of his arrest in 2002: "I wish I had bumped into Tony Blair. I would like to have heard why he feels he has the right to ruin so many lives - especially mine."

Robert Thame

Mr Thame is the fourth member of the Highgrove polo team, alongside princes Charles, William and Harry, and is a regular visitor to the Royal home in Gloucestershire.

He is a member of the prestigious Guards polo club and the Hurlingham Polo Association, which are frequented by the rich and famous.

Mr Thame, 33, is currently based in Dubai, where he manages the renowned Dubai Gold Cup polo team, and spends most of his time indulging his love of the sport as a professional player with a handicap of five.

He has an 18-month-old daughter and six-month-old son by his Swedish-born wife Victoria and has a house in London.

The family featured in society gossip columns last year after they were kidnapped, beaten and robbed while on holiday with friends in Kenya.

Ian McKie, a friend, said: "He feels very strongly about what has been going on. Hunting is his first love."

Luke Tomlinson

Eton-educated Mr Tomlinson, 27, is a childhood friend of princes William and Harry and has played for the Highgrove polo team.

His mother Claire, who runs the Beaufort Polo Club with her husband Simon, taught the young Princes to play the sport.

Mr Tomlinson lives at the family home of Down Farm in Gloucestershire, just minutes away from Highgrove.

The Tomlinsons are all keen members of the Beaufort Hunt, along with Camilla Parker Bowles and the royal princes.

Prince Charles considers Mr Tomlinson to be a "safe pair of hands" because of his preference for country pursuits over the London nightlife enjoyed by some of his son's more sophisticated friends.

He spends most of his time playing polo for the England team in the UK and abroad, and describes himself as "a country lad at heart."

He attended Prince William's 21st birthday party, which had an Out of Africa fancy dress theme, dressed as a mercenary,

Valerie Maidment, whose husband Nigel is secretary of the Beaufort Hunt, said: "He is an extremely nice young man. He works hard and plays hard."

He knows Robert Thame through the Highgrove team.

David Redvers

Mr Redvers is a well-respected bloodstock agent, who runs a stud farm in Gloucestershire, close to Highgrove.

The 34-year-old father of one is a lifelong member of the Ledbury Hunt and knows Andrew Elliott and John Holliday socially.

He comes from an established "horsey" family and is a key member of the county set, according to local people.

He and his wife Laura, the daughter of a baronet, took over the family's Tweenhill Farm in Gloucestershire some years ago and have run horses at Royal Ascot and Newmarket.

They are particularly known in racing circles for the seven-times Cheltenham winner Lady Rebecca, which retired three years ago.

Mr Redver's father said that his son had told him yesterday: "The police are being jolly nice and have been bringing us cups of tea."

Margaret Hopkins, secretary of the Ledbury Hunt supporters' club said: "The family are well-known and well-liked around here.

"They all support the hunt and think it's outrageous that the Government is trying to ban it. David doesn't normally go around breaking into buildings and getting himself arrested.''

John Holliday

Mr Holliday is a keen member and supporter of the Ledbury Hunt in Herefordshire and devotes most of his time to the Countryside Action Network which has campaigned against the ban.

The Ledbury Hunt, which sent three coachloads of protesters to London on Wednesday, adjoins the Beaufort Hunt which counts the Tomlinsons and the princes among its members.

The two hunts attend each other's annual balls and other social events and have both been active in the campaign against the ban.

Mr Holliday, a 38-year-old divorcee with two children, lives in Ledbury.

Nicky Driver, a friend of Mr Holliday's, said yesterday: "For someone like John, hunting is his entire life. You can't blame someone like John for fighting for his family and his way of life.''

Andrew Elliott

The 40-year-old, married father of two is one of the leading horse auctioneers in the country and presides over some of the most important sales of racing stock to breeders such as David Redvers.

He is also a keen member of the Ledbury Hunt and rides out regularly on his horses with Mr Redvers and Mr Holliday.

His partner, Virginia Fenton, insisted: "I'm proud of what he's done."

Richard Wakeham

A point-to-point jockey from Yorkshire, Mr Wakeham was named one of the best male novice riders this year.

His father Antony has strongly supported his son's actions, saying: "The people in the countryside have got no option now.

"We are being governed by people we no longer trust. Yesterday was just the start of a lot of trouble in the countryside."

Nick Wood

Another fixture on the polo circuit, Nick Wood was believed to be the "brains" behind the operation, with Mr Ferry. While well known in hunting circles, he has reportedly never hunted. Mr Wood, 41, who has two children, is thought to be a chef to Lady Weinstock. After training under the Roux brothers at the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire, he worked as a royal cook, preparing meals for the Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the designer Valentino.