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by Gareth Watkins


What a weekend!!! The weekend of 6th February saw the "gathering of the clans" at the Queen's Hotel, Bournemouth for what developed into one of the best weekends enjoyment for many years. The weather gods were kind to us as the weather for the whole weekend proved to be brilliant with "wall to wall" sunshine without the forecasted strong cold winds. Bournemouth was resplendent with hundreds of weekenders and locals enjoying the sunshine in the central park.

More and more BICC members are treating their better halves to a weekend away and from what I could see, the ladies enjoyed themselves immensely.

Along with Ray and Marie Strawbridge and Ray's sister Eileen, Judy and I arrived at the Queen's at lunchtime and we were soon in the bar enjoy a light lunch. Throughout the afternoon there was a steady flow of arrivals with old friends getting together in a happy, family atmosphere.

Judy and I popped into the town later in the afternoon and enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal before heading back to the Queen's in time for the Wales v England rugby International. By the time we got back the bar was chock a block with revellers and the only low point of the weekend was the result in the rugby match! I can tell you its not a pleasant experience being surrounded by gloating Englishmen after a home defeat!!! Nevertheless I have a long and unforgiving memory and I've marked the cards of most of my "antagonists" over the weekend and will reap a terrible revenge, hopefully sometime in the autumn. So be warned Jeff Lyden and your fellow antagonist Wally Turner!!!

Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful and after a lovely breakfast we were soon off to the town for Judy to make a trawl of the shops and me to sit in the park with a paper completing the crossword in beautiful sunshine.

By 6 pm the bar and surrounding area was full with the revellers preparing for the presentation and what an evening it was! Our secretary Carol Francis along with Chairman Albi Deacon and Vice President Mick Bunney had done a marvellous job in setting out the trophies and the room sparkled with the kaleidoscope of light coming off the scores of silver trophies. Our thanks must go to Albi Deacon who maintains and cleans the many trophies- they were a credit to you Albi. This year we had asked the hotel management to provide us with the much preferred round tables and these were set out so that all members and guests could watch the presentation proceedings.

The four course meal was once again superb and greatly enjoyed by all present. It was soon time for the presentation of trophies to the winners and this was carried out with the minimum of fuss and extremely efficiently by Carol. The whole proceedings lasted just 50 minutes with little or no pomp and ceremony but a great deal of respect to the recipients, none more so than that shown to the 2014 winners of the Barcelona race, Heath Archibald and his late father Peter. Heath was afforded a standing ovation by all present in recognition of their great performance, which was even more appropriate given that Peter passed away a short time after their pigeon, aptly named Peter's Dream, won the Barcelona race.

Mark Gilbert enjoyed a super run of wins early in the International race programme with 1st Open at Agen, Pau and St Vincent and was rewarded with a massive haul of  ELEVEN trophies. There was a rumour that Mark had hired Pickfords to deliver the silverware to Southfield.

The father and son partnership of Kevin and Lee Buddle from Dover also enjoyed a super season with the BICC in International races during 2014, culminating in their winning the Europa Trpohy for best Average all International races. In addition the Buddles won 1st Open Narbonne and 2 Bird Aves from Barcelona and Marseille and best Ave Barcelona & Pau amongst others.

Each and every recipient was treated to a rousing round of applause in recognition of their pigeons' winning efforts. Chris Sutton had also produced a framed photo of each race winner and these were presented on the night. Many thanks Chris on an excellent job. Within a very short time the formal proceedings were completed and the festivities began with a constant stream of ladies and some gentlemen on the dance floor. Bryn Williams from Cosham was certainly a keen dancer as he was jumping and jiving throughout the night.

I have included a full list of trophy winners elsewhere on Elimar.

Sunday morning once again dawned bright and beautiful and after a quick breakfast we were soon on our way home after enjoying yet another memorable weekend in good company. I think I speak for all when I say a big thank you to Carol Francis for organising such an enjoyable weekend. You did us all proud - many thanks. Roll on the 2015 PD.

David Staddon 1st Open Falaise YBs flanked by Brian Leadbetter and Carol

Dickie and Steve Pearmain 1st Open Marseille

Dorin Melinte who enjoyed a good season with the BICC

Geoff and Catherine Cooper 1st Open Tours

Geoff and Clayton Preece 1st Open Perpignan - only bird on day into the UK

Heath Archibald 1st Open Barcelona

John Halstead 1st Open Falaise OHs

Mark Gilbert with the Brian Long Trophy. Mark was 1st Open from Agen St Vincent and Pau in 2014 with the BICC.

Mark Shepherd and girlfriend Sam. Mark was 1st Alencon and 5th Falaise with the same pigeon.

Meg Murray 1st Open Guernsey YB with Clare Bradford and Carol.

Micky Watts 1st Open Guernsey OHs

The all-conquering Buddles 1st Open Narbonne and Europa Cup winners with Jill Rogers and Carol

Some of the BICC Presentation evening throng

The Treharnes winners of 1st Falaise and 1st Poitiers, receiving cheque for E1000 from Mike Armitage on behalf of Stephen Way.

Vince and Dave Padfield, winners of Jim Emerton Barcelona Dream Trophy for highest vel over 750 miles.