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RPRA Southern Region Show 2016


This weekend will see fanciers make their annual drive up the M40 to High Wycombe for the RPRA Southern Region Show, which is one of the high lights of the show calendar in the South of England every winter. Last year I had five great classes of pigeons to judge and picked a wonderful Show Racer blue chequer cock from my yearlings class to be the best pigeon I handled that day and he then went on to win Best in Show for John and Alice Bell of Catrine in Ayrshire. A very satisfying result for me personally, as the Supreme Champion owned by Brian and Caroline Seward at the Duchy Show the weekend before was also one of my class winners!


This year’s show held at the Hazlemere Community Centre is going be one of the best ever, with a good entry from all over the UK, including Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands. At the age of 85, my good friend of 35 years standing, Ron Lacey, has finally decided to stand down as Southern Region Show secretary and it is now in the very capable hands of Peter Gretton of Brighton. Peter is used to this type of work, being the secretary of his local Federation and serving on the RPRA Southern Region committee for many years, and must say he made marvellous job of the 2015 show. The 2013 Southern Region Show saw Ron Lacey return as one of the event organizers after packing up as show secretary in 2010. He told me at that time, he was approaching 80 years of age and was having trouble coping with the vast amount of work involved in organizing this wonderful annual show, which I could well appreciate. But Ron being Ron and one of the workers, he could not stay away and returned to the helm. When I say that Ron is one of the sport’s great workers, it is an understatement; he has spent a life time working for the RPRA and the sport of pigeon racing in general. Peter Gretton and his band of helper work hard every winter and put on one of the best shows I visit! We don’t seem to mention Peter’s band of stewards and workers in the annual write up, whom year in and year out work tirelessly to put this great show on. I don’t know their names, but we always ‘tip our hats’ when we meet up each November and it’s them same ol’ faces every year working so hard on this great event. Well done to you all!


At last year’s show, Best in Show was won by a beautiful yearling blue chequer cock owned by John and Alice Bell of Scotland. John & Alice travelled the 400 miles from Catrine in Ayrshire for the High Wycombe Show and in the three years that they have competed they have won Best Opposite Sex on the first two times they have shown. Went I spoke to the partners at the show, they were highly delighted at finally winning Best in Show at their third attempt and said it was well worth the 400 mile drive down from Scotland. The winning pigeon was bred from a long line of classic show winners and his dam, an eight year old blue chequer, won the old hens class on the day, also judged by myself. I judged four Show Racer classes at High Wycombe and the Bell loft won three of them and took many cards in other class. A brilliant performance!


I have attended most the RPRA Southern Region Shows over the past 35 years and it has always been of my favourite winter show events. One of the familiar faces I always see there is that of ‘Jock’ Price, who it seems has been there working away since the year dot! ‘Jock’ and his gang of workers put the show up and then take it down every year, and keep it running super smooth. This lovely Scotsman has been in the sport of pigeon racing for most of his life and started when he was the local pigeon ‘ace’, Bert Cusgrove’s, loft boy in 1953. He soon got his own loft of racing pigeons and flew in the Lochee Club and Dundee Federation, with great success. ‘Jock’ served ten years in the Navy, after which he moved to Littlewick Green in 1975, and joined the Maidenhead pigeon club. It was at this time that he started attending the RPRA Southern Region meetings and began working at the show, with the invitation of then show secretary, Bob Arnold. He is still a member of the Maidenhead club today and is club’s serving President.


The RPRA Southern Region show and pigeon auction have donated thousands of pounds to charity over the last 35 years and one of the charities last year was the Brain Tumour Charity, which is based at Farnborough in Hampshire. ‘Jock’ and his wife, Liz, lost their dear daughter a few short years ago to a brain tumour and they were happy with the decision to donate to the charity from the 2015 show. ‘Jock’ and Liz were presenting the £500 cheque at the Brain Tumour Charity head office in Farnborough and he asked if I would like to come along and take some pictures for the fancy press. Goes without saying, I was more than happy to attend and enjoyed meeting Liz and the Charity staff. I was told that the founders of the Bain Tumour Charity, Neil and Angela Dickson, were awarded MBE’s for their services to the brain tumour community in July 2015. Neil and Angela founded the Samantha Dickson Research Trust eighteen years ago following the death of their 16 year old daughter from a brain tumour. The charity became the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, which later merged with Brain Tumour UK and The Joseph Foote Trust to create The Brain Tumour Charity. The charity maintains, over 9,300 people are diagnosed with a primary brain tumour every year. We remember all those who have lost their life to brain tumour and those who have lost family and friends. The charity has ‘Supporter Groups’ which are a wonderful way to bring friends, family and colleagues together to fundraise in memory of, or inspired by, a loved one. Each group is committed to fundraising on an ongoing basis and is supported by a dedicated team every step of the way.


As I previously stated, I have been associated with the Southern Region Show for many years and have derived great pleasure judging at this great annual event through the years. This great event is one of my favourite one day shows, which is now held at the Hazlemere Community Centre, near High Wycombe. In recent years the Community Centre has proved to be a first class venue for this major event, having two large halls for the show and charity pigeon auction. My good friend, Ron Lacey, former President of the R.P.R.A. Southern Region, has run the show in recent years and prior to that Val and Tony Viccars were the show secretaries. I have attended the show most years, since it started at Ascot Racecourse over 30 years ago and in recent seasons have booked the judges for the racing classes for Ron. Years ago I used to show and won many firsts with my racing pigeons, which I always considered a good achievement, with the ‘red hot’ competition at the Region show.  After Ascot the show moved briefly into Basingstoke and then went to Slough for ten years, being run by the late great Bob Arnold. I always remember Bob telling me that he had been in pigeons all his life, being taken tenderly into a pigeon loft at the age of ten days old, by his father, in 1920. Bob was a wonderful man and put a lot of hard work into the Southern Region Show through his many years as show secretary. My ol’ mate, Ron Lacey, took over the job of show secretary a good few years ago from Val and Tony who had to step down because of ill health and I must say, Ron has done a brilliant job. Ron told me he was President of the R.P.R.A. Southern Region for 14 years until he had to pack up through ill health. He has been in the sport for 60 years and likes only long distance racing. Now the show is in the very capable hands of Peter Gretton, who has made a wonderful start with the 2015 event.


Peter Gretton was born in Small Dole and has been in the pigeon sport many years, with one of his biggest interests being a Football referee for 25 seasons. In the beginning he lived in Upper Beeding where his next door neighbour, the late Bill Lee, had a loft of pigeons, and when Peter got interested he erected his first loft, and Bill gave him some birds. In his novice days, Peter says his birds got very little training and he could not look after them properly as he worked away from home most of the time. He did eventually go in partnership with his new neighbour in Brighton and has now raced on his own for the last seven seasons. His first winner was from Avranches in the Worthing club many years ago and tells me his best position was winning 1st open SMT Combine Messac, but has won the Federation many times through the years. He tells me his family of pigeons are ‘Heinz 57’, with most of them being Staf Van Reet. Peter is only a small team man and houses his birds in a back to back loft set up, which is 16ft long, and has now installed the Unikon ETS. He feeds his natural racers depurative on Saturday and Sunday, with Widowhood mixture for the rest of the week and likes his birds sitting 14 day old eggs for the longer channel events. The 2009 season saw Peter have ago at the roundabout system for the first time, with one training toss midweek and he tells me he likes his old birds to race the full programme. The birds are parted for the winter months after the last race. He has 18 pairs of stock birds, which are paired up on 1st February and breeds 60 young birds each season to race. They are trained up to 25 miles and then raced on the natural system to the perch, and are made race the Federation programme. ‘Pedro’ tried the ‘dark’ system once and the following year found he was not getting the performance out of them birds. He is one of the sport’s workers and is secretary of the South Coast Federation and now of the RPRA Southern Region Show.


Well that’s it for this week! Have great time at the RPRA Southern Region Show this weekend! I can be contacted with any pigeon matters on telephone number: 01372 463480.













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