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As I sit here at my computer penning this article, having just returned from yet another visit to Blackpool and the British Homing World Show of the year.
True, the Show was very busy and loads of money was changing hands but the absence of some of the larger exhibitors who had attended previous Shows I had been to, certainly took the edge off my personal enjoyment of this year’s event.

               Is this the best location for the Show?

Since the reduction of space available to the Show at the Winter Gardens came into play two or three years ago, by and large the exhibitors who are still able to have Stands has been confined to those marketing either pharmaceutical products, feed products, means of “timing in” race birds or other comparatively small items such as traps or troughs. Exhibitors wishing to market larger products and therefore occupy larger Stand areas have, of necessity, had to be excluded, either of their own choice or because the Organisers could not provide the amount of Stand space they required.
Whatever the reason may be, my own feeling is that the lack of previous years’ exhibitors has, to a degree turned the Show into a bit of a flea market and if allowed to continue along these lines will result in a rapid decline in the popularity of the event. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves – Is Blackpool and the Winter Gardens still the best venue for such an important event as the BHW Show of the Year? Food for thought maybe before commitments are made for next year’s Show.
Turning now to the real subject of this article and that is the real dangers that currently threaten the future of our great sport. To a degree, I mentioned one of those dangers in an earlier paragraph when I referred to “the loads of money being spent”. Although I have read in all forms of media that the sport of racing pigeons is no more expensive now, in real terms, than many years ago, I still can’t bring myself to believe this philosophy.
If, as many pundits are suggesting, the current generation of fanciers is likely to be the last unless we can recruit many more younger members into our fold, then the question of cost to the younger generation is of paramount importance.
Just take a look at the prices that were demanded for the majority of the unproven birds in recent auction sales, the cost of purchasing a loft (or building one yourself if you have the necessary skills) and all the costs involved in creating a timing in system that will compete with your other club members, and ask yourself can the youth of today afford or wish to spend that sort of money?
Oh, by the way, then we come to the cost of keeping the birds, food, medication, and the cost of entering races etc. Have we allowed the costs, of what started life as very much a working man’s hobby/pastime, to rocket past what the average wage earner can afford, never mind what a young potential fancier can even consider? Perhaps the solution lies in the creation of some form of Junior Pigeon Club which could form part of every RPRA registered Club and would allow a new generation of fanciers to compete against their peers rather than being thrown in at the deep end from the very beginning and give them an opportunity to learn their skills, under the guidance of the Club’s older members, without having to compete against them. A similar system worked (and maybe still does) when I started playing “Men’s” rugby after leaving school and played in my Club’s Colts sides. These sides were just as competitive as their senior counterparts but, as far as possible, ensured you were not injured by playing against much larger and more experienced players.

Young fanciers of the future


Such Junior Sections of Clubs could benefit from discounted prices all round - maybe suppliers could even be encouraged to join in the fun by looking on these Junior flyers as their future customers and create special packs of products to help the youngsters get started. I appreciate that any such scheme could be open to miss-use but maybe someone with a more commercial mind than mine could solve that problem.

The future of our sport is not just in the hands of future generations of fanciers, the future depends on all of us if we are to keep the sport of pigeon racing alive. All Clubs must play their parts, so please do your best to encourage your members to take a look at the current situation and come up with some ideas of where we can improve matters – and I don’t just mean sack the Officials and get some new ones. Where would we get them from? Would you volunteer to take on a role?
Send your ideas to me and I will do my best to air your views and help to move our sport forward.

Cheers for now, see you soon
Brian T Smith
Press Officer


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