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Steve Sue Redfernreport


John Clements

Articles, Reports and Shared Thoughts


Steven Redfern of Derby

2017 and 2018 NFC Certificate of Merit Winner


As I promised I am now doing my annual round up of this years NFC Certificate of Merit award winners. I am doing this to try to bring attention to individual long distance pigeons of the very highest class. Because they are of the highest class they by definition very rare birds but strangely enough they are not the highest price or universally  recognised by name or reputation. This may be because they are never sold or put on the market. 

In this materialistic age most people need a price or some indication of value to form an opinion thus opinion is often missing. This is why Certificate of Merit pigeons are largely overlooked and grossly undervalued yet even to the casual observer who is not interested in pigeons that have flown over 600 miles three times flying against the best in the country -  Individual pigeons of this rare kind surely must  impress casual observers especially during those quiet moments when this kind of fancier is alone and reflecting  honestly on their own performances.  Reflections of this kind are ‘pigeon red pill', moments and 'red pill'  moments don't usually occur very often these days. The real ‘Red Pill’ message  is that ‘distance flown’ is a better way of assessing a pigeons value than ‘prizes won’.  Prizes are a human construct  to provide a velocity. Velocity does not take into account things like position - numbers entered - wind - or even the later life of the pigeon or it’s ability to improve it’s  colony.


Steve & Sue Redfern


Steven Redfern of Derby one of this years award winners. Steven   didn’t need a rare red pill moment - he has red pilled himself through and through over the years ever since he had a marking table at the NFC Reading marking station for many years. Steve is quite content  to live with the kind of truth that comes with Swallowing the ’ Pigeon Red Pill’.  This is the second year his loft has produced a ‘Certificate of Merit’ pigeon. Last year it was 'Sam’s Girl' a seven  year old. This year it is 'Sue's Girl' also a seven year old. Both Hens of course are distantly related going back to the original Foundation blood Steven used when he moved to Derby.  Both are bred from the genuine unmedicated long distance pigeons. They are the kind of pigeons  we should all be trying to breed. 


Let us start at the beginning with details of the five foundation birds of Steven’s loft and gradually build a more complete picture of how the loft began  afresh when it moved to Derby.


The five  Foundation Pigeons of Steven’s colony are

1. Two pigeons bought at the clearance sale of Michael John Burden then of Uttoxeter - these two pigeons were Red Cocks of a famous long distance fancier - They were both  Eric Fox of Bakewell blood.


2. Two late bred pigeons purchased from Alan Shore of Hankelow - these two pigeons were grandchildren of Alan’s own Certificate of Merit winner.


3. Lastly a Mealy hen from Steven’s friend Joe Raeburn of Melksham, she was probably the best hen Steven ever owned -Two of her grand parents won 1st open Pau NFC and another won 1st sect San Sebastian NFC.


After digesting the original quality of Steven's five foundation birds we now come onto this years 'Merit Winner' and see yet another ingredient comes into play. This ingredient happens to be an unrung British pigeon.   Whether or not unrung pigeons without pedigree should play a part in the development  of any  pigeon colony is not the subject of this article but in this case it certainly did for it provided a cross that added an extra sparkle and a bit of extra zip to produce yet another NFC Certificate of Merit pigeon. This is a good example of the old Hybrid vigour Phenomena but although often generally cited by those who cross strains the fact remains hybrid vigour does not work unless the cross is of the hight calibre.



This pigeon also reinforced the fact all fanciers who attempt to race Marathon pigeons know - Quality pigeons are  essential if one is to enjoy even reasonable success. This unrung pigeon was from the loft of Keith Bush of Cossall. It is believed it is bred from Keith's 6th open Tarbes bird but as no paper work came with it so this remains unsure, but in Steven's opinion the source of the pigeon was enough for Steven to give it credibility. In the opinion Steven,  the Keith Bush loft  is the best over 600 mile in the UK by virtue of it’s consistent performances over many years. Again we come back to Steven's theme that  consistency over many years should always be rated above one off outright wins when it comes to choosing stock birds to further develop the breeding in any loft. Alas this idea has not caught the attention of many modern fanciers simply because  outright wins catch headlines while high level consistency over a few seasons does not.


In the Redfern loft there have also been many ups and downs - Hawk attacks interrupted the preparation of both Certificate of Merit Hens. Wisely both were rested for the season and brought back the following year so even in a successful loft problems still occur. For instance the five foundation pigeons were lost when breaking them from Steve’s fathers loft to his Derby loft. Yet despite problems that happen with everyone and in every loft Steven has shown a tenacity of purpose that I feel is reflected in his pigeons. Tenacity of purpose is an essential attribute in both the fancier and the pigeon. The Redfern loft is a good example of this double act paying off.


Sue’s Girl is named afar Steven’s wife Sue. They have been married for 40 years. Sue has always supported Steven - cleaning out - feeding the birds and  the endless pigeon  jobs Steven could not do when he was bust in his working life.  They are both committed Dart players. They play  at a very high level although Steven says “I am not as consistent as I once was.”


I must also pay tribute to Tony Cowan who first thought of the ‘Certificate of Merit’ idea. Less then 50 have been awarded since it’s introduction in 1979 so there is still plenty of ‘Room at the Top’ for ‘Bespoke’ pigeons of the highest quality.  I hope the stories behind these great pigeons inspire others to either speak of them with the respect they deserve or have a go themselves.  I hope fanciers will also ponder on the role of British pigeons when it comes to Long Distance pigeons crossing the channel into the UK. The sport needs  it’s own British heritage  to be recognised more now than it has ever done at any time in it’s long history. British long distance pigeons are just as good as  modern continental imports and generally even the best continental pigeons need to become conditioned to the British situation before they begin to perform. Certainly modern continental pigeons cannot be bought off the shelf and be expected to perform instantly here in the UK.