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Lancashire Social Circle Spring Gathering 2018


Lancashire Social Circle

The Lancashire Social Circle always hold their twice yearly Gatherings on the weekend of the first Friday in November and March each year, and this year we could not have picked a worse week with the weather the way it had been. Having guests from all parts of the country and in some cases for the continent, made travelling almost imposable for many of these. The days before the event are always filled with phone calls with guest and members wishing to make small changes or cancel for one reason or another and the hotel in most cases accommodate these for me. The programme of events has 8 pages with the back page containing a list of all members and guests attending, this art work has to be in the hands of the printer 10 days before the event. So when fanciers give back word, as far as the programme is concerned it's too late. The other problem is the table plan, this can be changed at short notice, but this again is a large A3 piece of art work mounted in a gold frame that needs to be printed and got ready before the event. The weather played havoc all week with the weather men calling it the beast from the east.

With numbers down on our usual Spring Gathering President Chris Knowles welcomed the 96 members and guests that had braved the snow to be with us, and offered apologies from a number of members who had other commitments. He thanked everyone involved in putting the evening together and in particular the secretary whose organisational skills had stretched to the limit, and went on to thank the hotel for the excellent way in which they had taken on board the problems. With the weather trying its best to scupper this gathering Chris as a consequence had to make numerous changes to his notes. Chris explained it was his intention to congratulate Roy Jones on his retirement from his many roles within the administration side of the sport. Roy should have been here along with his son Mark as guests of past president Bob Smith. He went on by making everyone aware of the dedication to the role of President of the MNFC and the West Midland Region and the RPRA Council. Chris had worked closely with Roy and shared a passion to develop the Staffordshire Moorlands Fed, an organisation of which both have held the post of President and both now share the title Life Vice Presidents. He wished Roy had been with us so as to wish him well in his retirement as he will be a very hard act to follow. Roy came into the sport at the age of 7 when his father who always kept a few chickens and bantams brought home a cardboard box young Roy was very curious as to what was inside. When dad finally opened it there was a red chequer cock and Roy was hooked, not quite so his mother but over the years see to accepted the sport of pigeon racing.

Andrew Sutton with President Chris Knowles

While still on his feet another guest that had not made the event was William Curtis the son of a long standing guest of the Circle Philip Curtis and now sadly missed. Along with another long standing guest of past president Eric Entwistle Warren Chapman a great supporter of the Circle. Chris asked all to stand and raise their glasses in a toast to absent friends.

Ray Bullen was next to his feet with the task of introducing the two principal guest speakers. This was the first time Ray had spoken at the circle and when approached by President Chris Knowles he jumped at the chance as he is going to Australia this next month to be best man at his brother's wedding, and felt this would be a good grounding for that. Not very often do you get a willing volunteer in the pigeon sport. Ray put a lot of homework into the background of the two main guest first Andrew Sutton whose father Roger is a past president of the Circle Andrew is no stranger to public speaking being Chairman of the Young Farmers and enjoys the debating side of the organisation and has been invited to the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. He has recently become a father for the first time and has been there to support wife Carrie over these last few trying weeks. The second of our two speakers was  Denny Waters a face know too many, who has been on television on numerous programmes both as an actor and comedian winning several talent contests with his whit as a comedian. Ray kept the introduction very light hearted explaining if you watch live at the Apollo on TV you would be in the same company as Denny as he had no booking, then explained Denny had been working for Sky Television not as a comedian but putting Sky dish's up for them. As you can imagine when Denny got the microphone Ray paid heavily for his witty remarks, but it was all in good fun.


Secreatry Brian Dearn with Guest Speakers Denny Waters, Andrew Sutton and President Chris Knowles     -  Ray Bullen and Jimm Nelson speakers for the L.S.C.

The first of our two guest Andrew Sutton explained he was the eldest son of Roger and like his father always wanted to be a farmer following in the family footsteps. While at school he hated French, why would he need this when all he wanted was to be a farmer, but has since realised when dealing with the Belgium's French has come in very handy. Following his course at Agricultural Collage where he got his National Diploma he took up employment on a farm that took him away from home for around 18 months as a contractor, before returning to be involved with the running of Bent Farm. A family meeting followed as to how the farm could keep his parents along with himself and his brother Greg and their future families employed on the farm. Roger opened the pigeon food business that has grown and is now importing 800 to 1000 tonnes of pigeon mixtures, while and the boys took on the tasks of the day to day running of the farm. They farm 360 acres and have 380 head of pedigree cows of which 160 are milking cows giving up to 60 litres of milk per day. Pigeons have always been around the farm and the lawned area in front of the pigeon loft was always out of bounds when he and his younger brother Greg wished to play football. Andrew joked on his wedding day when Roger was asked how it was going he replied I have not timed in as yet. Andrew made several connections with the farming side to the pigeon sport giving examples of veterinary practices, problems with TB in cows and Paramyxo in pigeons and was a great believer in the use of vaccines as a preventive which is far better that the disease. He was fully aware that in both farming and pigeons, keeping stock healthy, there was in the past a tendency to use antibiotics as a preventative rather than a cure. In the farming industry this has now been outlawed and the fancy is quickly following suit. We have all heard of Bovine TB in cattle and should you get it in your herd they have to be destroyed, and this is caused by Badgers which from time to time have to be culled. This he related to the Birds of Pray that are plaguing the pigeon sport, explaining if a dog attacked sheep the farmer had the right to protect his flock but not so the pigeon fancier. His advice to us is to use Social Media to forward or cause as this is a most powerful tool. He also made reference to the GPS system used on tractors to great advantage linking it to the ETS system used by the fancy. Andrew finished by saying, while having breakfast that morning he read "some want it to happen, some wish it to happen, while others make it happen" and the Lancashire Social Circle makes it happen. All in all a very interesting speech carried out by a very competent young man, who has a great future in front of him.


Bob and Brian Smith along with John Mills and their guests.      -     Andy Webb Nicky Campbell John Pugh Andrew Campbell Les Adams.

Following a short break the President welcomed everyone back and gave his Address covering several topics, first his recent visit to the Lanarkshire Social Circle achieving one of his goals since becoming President in 2016. Then explained as part of our continued endeavour to promote friendship and foster the special relationship that we have with our guests, we have introduce a new racing venture for 2018, where by each member will be able to race 2 young birds from a chosen guest or honorary member as part of the YB race. This takes place of what use to be the exchange with the Midland Social Circle. It is hoped that this involvement of our guests will serve to strengthen even further the foundations on which this organisation is build friendship.


B Duckworth R Wilson T Merrick J Nelson J Varty R Hodgson.     -     Members and Guests from the Spring Gathering.

Chris then introduced Denny Waters who had recently been on tour with Van Morrison. Danny quickly put him right saying he had been driving a van for Morrison's. So as you can see this set the tone for the next 40 minutes of light hearted humour. Jim Nelson one of our honorary members from Cumbria had the task of replying on behalf of the members and a great job he made of it saying how honoured he was to be asked to make the reply and explained how he had become a member. He thanked the two speakers for their contribution to what had been a great evening following some terrible weather conditions.


Secretary Brian Dearn President Chris Knowles with George Hilson.     -     Members and Guests who enjoyed the weekend.

The President brought the evening to a close by informing the gathering of the forthcoming Ladies Weekend which is to be held at the Kensington Hotel in Llandudno on the weekend of 28th 29th September 2018. This is run by Tony Merrick and his lovely wife Kim. The event will take on a slightly different tone this year with an informal buffet on the Friday night with a Welsh Male Voice Choir giving their rendition of some great songs from around 8 30pm. Following breakfast on the Saturday if anyone wishes, they can catch the coach that will be provided and will take the party the short journey down the A470 to the picturesque village and tourist spot of Betws-y-Coed a few miles away. Following a light lunch the coach will make the return journey back to the hotel in Llandudno in plenty of time to get ready for the more formal night where Morgan Reeves will be there to entertain us following dinner for a couple of hours. Tony took several booking on the night but anyone interest in coming along please give Tony a call on 01539 445995.

Brian Dearn

Tel. 01254 772515.