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Fred Dickson of Cramlington.


My good friend Fred Dickson has celebrated his 94th birthday this week and as I previously reported, has had to pack up his beloved pigeons recently, but was still winning at the highest level up too his last racing seasons! Whatever the weather conditions might throw at him, he used to ride his bike to his loft on the allotments over two miles away from where he lives and says he can’t ride up the hills anymore. I remember one day he rang me up and there was two foot of snow on the ground and he was off to feed and water the birds. This great fancier had to hire a taxicab on race days to take him to the pigeon club to get his clock read! In the later years, Fred’s cousin, John Dickson, was very keen on the pigeons and helped out with the transport, and around the loft, but developed ‘Pigeon Fanciers Lung’, and had to pack up. The local club he raced in packed up and not being a driver, and the nearest club being many miles away, he had to pack up his birds. Fred loves long distance pigeon racing and over the years has been outstanding racing at all distances, but very special at 581 miles from Bourges to his loft in Cramlington, Northumberland. He sent four birds to the Bourges race in 2013, with four Combines competing and with the race turning out to be a very hard push home, the birds clocked in the Combines on the day of liberation could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Fred lives at the top end of the North of England Homing Union area and clocked his good Eric Cannon blue chequer cock, ‘Northern Expected’, at 06.03hrs next morning to record 1st club, 1st Federation, 1st New North Amalgamation and 8th North of England Homing Union open result (2,355 birds). This wonderful round about cock had flown Bourges (581 miles) three times and won 1st, 3rd and 4th Federation. A fantastic achievement! In the 2012 season a half-brother to ‘Northern Expected’, also recorded 1st Federation, 1st Amalgamation Bourges for Fred’s friend. I have known Fred Dickson since the early 2000s and have spoken to him on the telephone many times over the years, but had never met him, until in November 2011, I was invited to judge at the NEHU Show in South Shields and we met in person for the first time. I really enjoyed our pigeon chat and I must say he looked much younger than his then 85 years! Fred Dickson is a great pigeon racer, with a lifetime of winning in the very best competition behind him and is a true gentleman of our sport. Happy 94th birthday Fred!



‘Show Racer World’ – Number 16.



Les Carter & son of Birmingham.


This week’s article is a very special one for the Show Racer fraternity and features the outstanding loft of Les Carter senior & son, Les junior, of Kingstanding, near Birmingham. Les Carter senior sadly passed away a few years ago and now Les junior manages and shows the Show Racer team with his wife, Sarah. Les Carter senior first had some tumblers at the age of eight and then graduated to racing pigeons which he raced in Hockley, near Birmingham. Due to moving to a new house the pigeons had to go and he restarted in the early 1980’s, racing in the Pheasey Flying Club along side some ‘household’ name, including Albert Babington. He raced the Wildersmerch and Van De Bosche pigeons and being a heavy feeder had most of his best success from France, although he won the Tamworth Federation from Hullavington in 1996. When he was racing Les liked to compete from 80 miles through to 550 miles. Les junior had a great interest in the pigeons in his teenage years and when he became 21 years old in 1998, he decided to leave his full-time job within the jewellery quarter, and set up his own business with his fiancée. This new venture demanded all the hours Les junior could physically manage to get the business up and running, so could not cope with the racing of the pigeons, which included his regular job of giving the birds 60-mile training tosses down the Motorway.



When I asked Les junior how he got in to the Show Racer side of the sport he told me, ‘Well I remember in 2000 reading the British Homing World and looking at some Cornish show reports written by Sandra Williams and these featured some stunning photographs of  Show Racers, and thought that was for me. This was my new pigeon venture and needed to obtain some Show Racer breeding stock. I remember at that time the Show Racer side of the sport was not that well reported, but whilst looking at the BHW, I noticed that Kevin Hicks of Cornwall was doing very well, so I decided to contact him to obtain some Mosaics which seem to be doing all the winning at that time. The first time I contacted Kevin he came across to me as a genuine man who would do all he could to help a newcomer to Show Racers. I arranged to meet him at the Midland Show Racer Society open show in 2001, where he supplied me with a lovely Mosaic cock bird, which carried terrific colour and a suitable Mosaic hen that could be mated to him’.



Les had to find a Show Racer club to compete in, so joined the Midland SR Society and the Nottingham Fancy Pigeon Club, which at that time was organized by Andy Lowe, and about a 50 miles drive from the Carters home. In the early days, Les obtained birds from good fanciers from all over the country, from Cornwall through to Scotland. He obtained a number of birds from Sandra Williams of Cornwall, who was doing well with her Reds and Mealies at that time and after speaking to Sandra, she sent the Carter’s a Red cock and Mealy hen, which was Les’ first major break through. This pair provided them with their first goal, winning a class at the mighty Midland SR Society show in 2002, when everything was being dominated by the two premier show men, Les Petty and Phil Crawford. Les says the feeling of the victory was brilliant and that bird went on to win other top prizes, becoming a consistent card winner. More Show Racers were obtained, and his father’s racing pigeons were gradually phased out to make room for the show team. Les junior told me, ‘I can remember at that time my dad saying what have you got these show birds for and didn’t seem interested in them, but as time went on, he grew to love them and now is very competitive with them’. In 2004 the father and son partnership purchased birds from Ted Bramley, which originated from Jim Fitzpatrick of Glasgow in Scotland and then some direct from Jim himself, who they say is show man with a big heart and would do anything to help newcomers to the sport. In 2003 Les had the opportunity to meet his now good friend Colin Carter of Gloucester and he also was one of the most consistent show men at the National events every winter, and he sold him a Red cock and Mealy hen, which have proved to be a brilliant stock pair for the Birmingham loft. In 2006 Colin’s pair bred a lovely Mealy cock which has won well in good company and has proved to an exceptional breeder of several premier winners at the Midland SR Society. From 2005 onwards the two Les’ acquired some more quality stock birds from Colin and Jean Carter on several visits to their Cotswold show loft and say they are lovely people and always greet you with a warm welcome.



When I asked Les about one or two of his best Show Racers he said, ‘In 2004 we entered a fair quantity of birds in to different shows, including the Midland SR Society events, including our good Mosaic cock, ‘Hicksy’ and he was bred from Kevin Hick’s original pair. He was going into the big open show as a two year old with some good form, having already won at the Midland’s club show and to my surprise ‘Hicksy’ had won his class his class and Best in Show from 523 birds. This champion Mosaic Show Racer won many premier prizes including six first at major shows. Well two very good performances of the 2008 season was at the National Young Bird Show held at Nottingham, with our good Mealy hen, now named ‘The Cotswold Hen, and she won her class, 1st Section and Best in Show with over 400 birds competing. A handsome Red cock bred by Colin Carter won his class and 1st section at the same show in 2008. Then in December 2008 we entered the Midland SR Society open show and that same Red cock, being shown against some of the best show men in the UK today, won his class and Best in Show (573 birds), and qualified to compete for Supreme Champion of Great Britain at the BHW Blackpool Show. This wonderful young cock is now named after Colin Carter’s loft, ‘The Cotswold Cock’, and finished the 2008 season with four firsts and three times Best in Show. To date he is the best young bird we have had the privilege of owning. In my view my good friend, Colin Carter, has had an exceptional 2008 / 09 show season by breeding three big winners for other fanciers, in the form of ‘The Cotswold Hen’: Best in Show at the National Young Bird Show, ‘The Cotswold Cock’: Best in Show at the Midland SR Society open show and Champion ‘Colin’s Cracker’: Best in Show at the BHW Blackpool Show 2009 for the ‘master’ show man, Ron McCarthy of Wales’.



Until February 2008 all the show birds and stock birds were housed in Les senior’s six section loft, but some have now been moved in to a smart new 20ft x 8ft loft in Les junior’s garden. The loft has a corridor, four spacious sections and is very well ventilated along the roof and floor levels. This enables fresh air to be constantly moved around the sections. The Carter partners do have different views on management of the pigeons, including feeding, supplements and Les senior uses deep litter in his loft and Les junior likes to scrape the floorboards on a daily basis. The Carter partners have about 20 pairs of Show Racers between them and pair up two weeks after the BHW Blackpool Show each year, and breed about 60 young birds for showing. They breed mainly from the stock team, but don’t like to breed to close, with Grandsire to Granddaughter being a favourable mating and the youngsters get lots of pen training at Les senior address. They like the birds to be tame. The partner’s feeding systems differ, but both feed a heavy mixture in the form of Buckton’s ‘High Speed’ which consists of beans, peas and tares. A handful of condition seed is given now and again, and the birds get a bath twice a week during the show season. The bird’s bath is in a small flight which is on wheels and is pushed up to the open windows of the loft for the birds to get access.



Les junior told me, ‘I think the future of the British Show Racer stands in good stead for the future, with competition being very strong and over 2,000 birds aways at our number one show, the BHW Blackpool Show. There is no standard for British Show Racers, and I agree with this policy, as I don’t think there is any need for one. All the top judges do a brilliant job and know what to look for in a Show Racer, and obviously there are certain aspects that should always be took in to account, including good bars, good tight chequering, good stance, strong head, well balanced in body, silky feathering and lice free. These are all common sense points! I like to see a dark eye on a Show Racer, especially a Red or Mealy pigeon. I would recommend the sport of showing pigeons to any newcomer or ex-racing fancier, as the competition is strong, and the social side is brilliant. As regard to who is the top show man in sport, I think there are many good fanciers in the UK, but for their vast knowledge within the sport I would include Kevin Hicks, John Robilliard, Jim Fitzpatrick and Ron McCarthy. I admire my good friend, Colin Carter, as one of the premier Show Racer fanciers in the UK at the present time, for his energy for success at all the leading shows whether it be in Scotland or at the other end of the country in Cornwall. Colin certainly gets his birds in the thick of the best competition and enjoys great success with them. I am grateful for all the advice and support I have received from Colin and Jean Carter over the last few years’.



There you have it, the late great Les Carter and his son Les junior! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on: keithmott1@virginmedia.com


TEXT BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).




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