The Autumn Gathering of the Circle was held on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd November when a total of 146 members and guests attended the two-day function. It has amazed me since I first became involved back in 1983 that these events have become more and more popular and gone better and better with improvements being made by all four secretaries over that time. There are a number of reasons for this but one of the biggest contributions is the members who have been running the twice-yearly gatherings have a passion for all that the Lancashire Social Circle stands for. One thing that stands out is the number of fanciers coming along earlier to book in on the Friday and taking on what the hotel has provided including lunch in the restaurant along with some of the attractions the seaside town of Southport has to offer.
Chris Knowles LSC President with Dr.Vincent Schroeder and Andy Breemen on the Friday evening - Goerge Hilson with Brian Dearn enjoying the Friday evening.
Friday evening the Circle hold an event that we call the Friday Forum which this year took place in the Ball Room of the hotel which is the biggest room of its kind in the resort of Southport, I know this as I have on previous occasions tried to find an alternative. The Forum started at 7:00pm when everyone gathered for what has now become one of the many highlights of the weekend, a cracking carvery meal along with all the trimmings to get the event started. A deal has been struck with the hotel that the drink prices are frozen until 2020, and in this very relaxed atmosphere we were entertained by what can only be described as a top comedian. A true professional that kept everyone in stitches from the time he took to the stage. The official guests for the weekend were Vet Dr.Vincent Schroeder and his companion Andy Breemen someone most fanciers would have spoken to that have had any dealings with the company Schroeder Tollisan. With many fanciers still experiencing problems with their pigeons the two of them held a question and answer session that many fanciers gained a little more information on the troubles within the sport along with their experience as Veterinaries of how to overcome them. Including a problem known as Fat Eye that many had experienced these last two seasons, with the problem almost always affecting the left eye for some reason. The eyelids are inflamed and the lower eyelid often hangs a little. The problem can be caused by one of two things, Herpes or Ornithosis. Another question asked was when a fancier enters into a One Loft Race should a fancier vaccinate or not and if so at what age. It was explained when vaccinating youngsters, the immunity only kicks in after 10/14 days so vaccinating them the day or so before you send them is not the right way. The question of the use of Teas in the drinker, and were they of any use. Like all things a fancier keeps to his system and if the results are coming good then don't change things, when a loft is in form and winning this could still happen with or without the use of Teas in the water. Still on the same subject was the use of natural products like Garlic, Oregano and Herbs to help boost the immunity and the answer was much the same if it's working keep at it, but with the problems many lofts are experiencing it would be recommended to vaccinate for Paramyxo-Herpes and the E coli to boost the immune system by formation of antibodies. What advice would be recommended for stock pigeons. It is vitally important that the stock you are breeding from are healthy and as veterinaries we would recommend, they are treated for bacterial infections long before a breeding programme is undertaken, it was pointed out that Paratyphoid/Salmonella and Ecoli are all much of the same thing and any new introduction should be treated for the above. Something recommended is pH-Control in the drinking water and this helps buffer the above, pH-Control supports good digestive function and protects the bacteria that provides optimal conditions for a healthy intestinal flora. The questions went on and this is only a taste of some of them and the way the night evolved.
Each year at this weekend we make the draw for the Breeders Exchange an event that has been going since 1944 so this is the 75th year of the exchange. All the trophies the Circle hold have a long connection with past members and guests and the two trophies presented to the breeder and racer of the exchange winners receive the Barrett and Braithwaite cups a pair of identical trophies presented by the late Guy Barrett's father and uncle Jack Barrett and Ted Braithwaite. Presented alongside these the winners also receive a John Marsden Award, John has been involved with pigeons all his life and was first introduced to the Circle in 1972 and became a member in his own right in 1975. On retiring from work in banking his circumstances changed and he was made an Honorary Life Vice President and the awards are a result of a large sum of money presented to the LSC by John. For many years John was considered by the membership as the Managing Director of the Lancashire Social Circle who kept a constant review on the working, in particularly the financial management. The last few years John has not attended the Gatherings due to health reasons but still keeps in contact by phone and can always be relied upon to write with comments a couple of times per year. This next season's draw went as follows. S Gabriel with K H Cliffe, A Bamford with E S Entwistle, P J Robinson with G Pulford, D L Jones with S E Beardmore, T Owen with D Sowerby, A N Other with Alan Jones, M Parry-Jones with B Walsh, G Cockshott with J T Dearden, A Merrick with V Donnelly, K Iddon with G P Hilson, J R Sutton with D Little, E G Mackay with R Pollitt, P Latham with J R Tunstall, E W Fergusson with J Mills, G Mainwaring with J Churchill, A N Other with R Smith, A J Cowley with C G Knowles, M McCartney with R Bullen, A G Clements with D J Newson, M Hewitt with I L Cooper. This brought the official part of the evening to a close when President Chris Knowles thanked everyone for coming and thanked Vincent Schroeder and Andy Breemen for their time with answers to the many question, following their early start and a long journey from the continent.
Saturday morning following a leisurely breakfast, members get together for the AGM, with all positions filled and everyone happy with how the Circle is progressing in the present climate of decline within the sport. One new addition to the Management Committee was that of Stephen Beardmore who it was felt would be of benefit to the structure and the running of the committee with a couple of our long serving members finding it difficult to make some of these meetings. The rest of the day was left for members and guests to do as they like, the offer of lunch at the hotel was there should fanciers wish or there is of course many restaurants and cafe bars. Speaking with Andy Breemen he along with Vincent Schroeder had been taken to the Westminster Tea Rooms which is run on the lines of an old Victorian tea room from years gone by. Andy was very impressed having taken on English tea that was served in a silver tea pot in china cups and saucers accompanied with Scones Jam and Cream, something he is not used to. Throughout the day several more guests booked into the hotel swelling our numbers in readiness for the Saturday night official dinner. My thanks go out to all the fanciers who gave up their time on the Saturday afternoon to help make ready the room for the nights event. The hotel staff of course set the tables but the volunteers help with the place names and the programme of events along with the red roses for the members and the white carnations for all the guests.
Time moved on very quickly and before I knew it everyone was making their way to the Ball Room. President Chris Knowles opened the proceedings by welcoming everyone by asking them to stand in a minute’s silence in memory of two of our members who had sadly passed away since our last meeting, these being Bob McLaughlin and Ted Shore. Following grace, we all sat down to a four-course dinner before the President asked all to be upstanding for the Loyal Toast, he then went on to welcome those fanciers who were attending for the first time and on this occasion, we had 18 people who had not been to a Gathering before. He called upon Billy Wortley one of our Honorary Members from Scotland to pay tribute to Bob McLaughlin. Billy touched on Bob's connections with the Circle and his involvement with the SNFC and the Edinburgh Show. The next to his feet was George Mainwaring who did a splendid job with his tribute to Ted Shore recalling some light-hearted moments of Ted's life.
LSC speakers at the Saturday evening presentation evening: D.L.Jones, Brian Dearn, Chris knowles, Arthur Cowley and Stephen Beardmore
David Jones from North Wales had the honour of introducing the official guests Vet Vincent Schroeder and his colleague Andy Breemen. David explained how Vincent was not only an excellent Vet but an excellent pigeon fancier by giving some of the racing results he had achieved both with his father and in his own right. Vincent is married to Christelle and have 3 children and live in Bilzen Belgium. In his spare time, he is a great lover of football and is a big fan of Standard Liege FC the football club of the town where he studied. Andy Breemen is heavily involved with the practice but has several interests outside of work that include vintage cars, motorcycles, travelling to Asia, Buddhism and hiking to name but a few. Before joining Schroeder Tollisan, he studied as a Social Worker studying Psychiatry and Addiction Care and started work at the practice in 2012, and is the contact person for all UK customers. David made mention of two other people on the top table who had travelled from Scotland these being Scott McLaughlin the nephew of the late Bob McLaughlin and David Brown who had been his carer the last few years of Bob's life. David is no stranger to the Lancashire Social Circle as many years ago he came as a guest when Brian Newson was Secretary. David finished his speech by asking all members to stand and raise their glasses in a toast to the guests.
Brian Dearn receives a surprise donation form Scott McGloughlin
The President then introduced Scott McLaughlin to the Gathering by asking him to say a few words in reply on behalf of his uncle Bob. Scott thanked Chris for the honour of the reply and used the Lancashire Social Circle Centenary Book as a reference when he read a speech that Bob had made to the gathering back in 1991. A speech that was just as relevant today as it was 27 years ago. Following his address, he made a surprise gesture to the Circle by presenting a small trophy in memory of his uncle that he wished to be presented to the Runner Up in the Friendship Race who bred the pigeon. He felt this would be very fitting as the friendship Bob had gained from his many visits over the years to the Circle were all based on friendship.
Following a short break, the next part of the evening was taken up by the prize presentation when first Andy Breemen presented the diploma winners with their certificates that outlined their performances for this past year. It was then the turn of Vincent Schroder to make the presentation to the trophy winners before presenting our guest who had provided the winning pigeons in the first of our Friendship Races. This came about following the collapse of the exchange we had held with the Midland Social Circle for the last 20 years or so, with their reduction in numbers this exchange had now become impossable with almost half of the LSC members not being in the draw. Following the presentation Vincent gave a brief address of how he became a Vet and the background to the partnership with Johannes Jakobs and how the practice had grown over that time before asking all guest to stand and raise their glasses in a toast to the Lancashire Social Circle.
Stephen Beardmore made the reply with a light-hearted play on words, where he felt Vincent was missing a trick having Andy Breemen in his ranks who had trained in Psychiatry, he could be used as a councillor to all the fanciers who were suffering young bird losses. He then went on to thank both our guest for their time over the weekend, hoping they would return with fond memories of their time at the Lancashire Social Circle Gathering. The President Chris Knowles was next to his feet explaining how 2018 racing season had been described by many as the worst one they could remember with a rare compendium of difficult race conditions. Very hot temperatures, east winds, late liberations and cancelled races all playing their part. Issues that need more consideration in the ever-changing climate we are experiencing. However, the members of the Lancashire Social Circle were able to rise to the challenge with some excellent performances in the 3 OB races with good returns and credit must go to the care taken of our birds during transit and release. Chris then explained that outside the Circle races our members have once again shone in National competition, with Roger Sutton joining the growing list of National winners with a winning performance in the NFC Old Hens National. Individual performances are too numerous to mention, however the following members certainly distinguished themselves and flew the flag for the Lancashire Social Circle in National competition once again. Roger Sutton, Bob & Brian Smith, Gerry Clements, George Hilson, Keith Iddon and John Mills. To these members Chris used the term “Chapeau”, a term that professional cyclist use to signify admiration and respect for performance. Chris then welcomed the guests who were unable to attend our last function due to the weather, with a special welcome to the 18 fanciers attending for the first time, in what is frequently described as a declining sport. Giving a clear indicator of the credibility and respect held by the Lancashire Social Circle within the sport. Chris then welcomed Steve Gardner the son of Ken Gardner a long-time guest of the Circle in the 1990's, Steve writes in the BHW for his area as Best in the West. He was pleased to see William Curtis the son of Philip Curtis who was a regular guest of both our gatherings and Ladies Weekends with us tonight. He mentioned last November the Secretary and himself travelled to Scotland as guests of the Lanarkshire Social Circle and was pleased that a party had made the return journey to be with us tonight.
Gerry Clements receing one of his trophies from Dr. Schroeder - Arthur Cowley, longest race winner with Chris Knowles and Dr. Schroeder
Bob Smith having received his trophies from Dr. Schroeder - Graham McKay recieves his trophy from Dr. Schroeder
A month ago, we held our Ladies Weekend in Llandudno and what a terrific weekend it was, Chris then thanked the organiser Tony Merrick and his wife Kim who have been running the event for the last 7 years. Thanks also went out to the Welsh members for their contribution Stephen Beardmore, David Jones and Malcolm Parry-Jones. It was such a good weekend we are returning next year the date being 4th 5th October that is a week later than this year, and plans are afoot for the event for 2020.
The winner of the last OB race has the honour of replying on behalf of the prize-winners and this year this honour fell to Arthur Cowley. Arthur made the point of congratulating all the prize-winners and thanked the fanciers who gave up their time at the race marking, without whom we would not be able to have a race. Special thanks were extended to the transport company Dianne Bonney along with Keith Iddon under whose care the birds are in once handed over at the marking. Arthur could only endorse what the president had said earlier of how the pigeons had returned in excellent condition from all three of the channel races.
Graham Mckay with Scott Irvine the winner and breeder of the winnner in the first ever Friendship Race for LSC.
The official part of the evening was quickly coming to an end and the President thanked both the members and guests who had taken part in the new venture of 2018 the Friendship Race and suggested to the members if they hadn't all ready done so, this evening maybe the ideal time to make some arrangements for 2019. With our next Gathering in March being an ideal time for any guests living some distance away to deliver their youngsters. There were some members Chris felt deserved a little recognition, Brian Smith and Gary Cockshott assisted with John Mills for the trophy display. Again, Brian and John for the hard work collecting the trophies and dealing with the problems that that they had entailed this year. David Newson who had arranged the flowers and the members who helped set up the room in the afternoon. To Vincent and Andy our principal guests who had travelled from Holland to be with us and also for the interesting time that we shared with them at the Friday Forum. The only reason the weekend had been possible was the contribution of the Secretary who was the architect of the Gathering and his personal thanks went out to him.
Brian Dearn Tel. 01254 772515.