Les J Parkinson talking to Jim Emerton
1.How did this brilliant service and organisation evolve; into the huge complex it is today?
I take it you are referring to the Elimar web site. I was working at what was then Rolls Royce Motor Cars at Crewe. I sat in the garden one night talking to Elizabeth who had by then taken early retirement. She asked me what I would like to do in life so I told her I would like to take pigeons up full time. She didn’t think it would work but I had worked out in my mind what I would like to do. I went on to explain what I would do and that I was confident it would work. Elizabeth still wasn’t convinced but said she would go along with whatever I decided to do. So, I took early retirement at 50yrs and set about buying direct children of 1st National winners so that I could breed young birds off them and that would help pay our way while I was working on the site. All this started in 1999 when by chance I came into contact with Steve Spinks in Blackpool. He started to build the site and set me up so that I could work it myself and if there was a problem, I could contact him to sort it out. At this time there were not a lot of pigeon fanciers using computers so getting hits in numbers was hard work. In fact, for a few years I was lucky to get into 4 figures. For some reason the numbers increased considerably in late 2004, I was also taking to Cameron Stansfield when he was at the BHW. Not long after that he joined me working on the web site which lasted for a few years. I decided that I needed to change the direction that I was going so again went alone and did offer Cameron the site but not the name. I met my IT man Mike at a National presentation and he agreed to take the technical side of the site up and in fact built me a new site. When I started the web site, I wanted to do an auction site for everyone and not just the few. From there the site has built and according to the information that my IT Man supplies we now have probably the biggest pigeon web site in the world, I am of course referring to content and not money, that honour belongs to a Belgium web site. Anyway, I am very proud of the site that is for everyone and not just the few. Having a good team around me does help. Always remember to do and job and get results you have to be dedicated to what you are doing.
2. What are the benefits to the fancy of Elimar up to global level of influence?
We have over 12 million hits each year to over 100 countries world-wide, so the arena is huge. There are always articles on the site, so it is a good, mostly free publicity machine with over 10,000 members, that is for those who want to use it through articles. I must add there is a fee for advertising, we do have bills to pay, it is not cheap running such a big world-wide web site.
3. How many countries on the planet respond to the good work that you project in the media?
As with the previous answer there are over 100 countries, in fact last year there were fanciers from 111 different countries looked in on the web site. This is a free publicity machine via articles, so I don’t know why more do not use it. As long as they are typed out, we can add them, I don’t have the staff to type articles out, but we do put them on free for you.
4. I like the eclectic, open to all nature of Elimar, as it smacks of a genuine interest, love and obsession with the culture of pigeon racing-is this part of your philosophy?
There is a lot of interest from around the world and we do get a good response, however when you are successful at anything there are always people who want to knock you. In today’s life of social media people have on open and free chance to spout off but from experience I know a lot regret what they say, the problem is it’s too late then.
5. Who are the personnel who work within the Elimar organisation?
I take overall control, but I do have a good team alongside of me. Kim does the accounts and is self-taught which has been a great asset to the business so is Lizzie who knows how to deal with all sorts of issues that may raise its heads, life isn’t always easy running. Mike Lycett does a great job putting a lot of pigeons on the site. Mike Horner is our IT Man; he has done a great job and we are now in the process of building a new site. Mark Walker and his team are the people we rely on for collections and deliveries they are the most professional and have the vehicles to do the job, through change they have improved the way pigeons are collected and delivered. Buxtons are our accountants, they are a professional company who have given us some great advice. Oh yes, I must not forget my Elizabeth who does a great job in looking after the girls and visitors.
6. Les, a devoted pigeon fanatic, please relate some of your top performances and experiences to the world at large??
I have always said, “I eat, drink and sleep pigeons” I have written this in my articles and was once asked, “Do you really eat your pigeons” to which I replied, “I am not a cannibal” I have a note pad and pen in the drawer next to the bed and have woke up many times with something on my mind so made a few notes. I have met some great fanciers over the years, far too many to mention but I will add a few photos. We went to the Las Vegas Classic, which was arranged by Derek Nicholls who looked after us, that was a great experience. We have been to some incredible lofts over the years and some that are a bit more ramshackle and they still win just like the more extravagant lofts.
7. How do you maintain standards of honesty and integrity with the commercial side of the sport?
We go out of our way to be straight with people, at times it doesn’t suit some, nevertheless we do whatever we can for pigeon fanciers whether they are members or not.
8. Do you like to study articles, books and films from the racing culture?
Most would not believe it but I rarely read a pigeon magazine, I scan through each week but not a fan of reading it all. The reason for that is because I want to write what I think and not be influenced by what others write. It has to be something different when I read it. I don’t read a lot in the daily paper; I might speed read a few bits here and there. I was once watching TV and saw the late Bruce Forsyth hold the paper up and point to the date and said that’s the only thing you can believe in a newspaper. When you read todays newspapers you can see why he said that.
9. What would be wise for all us fanciers during the corona virus pandemic?
All we can do is sit tight, I know it’s hard during these times, fanciers want to race after a long winter. People are always knocking the government but when you listen to what has been going on, they have done they have done a good job, let’s face it no matter who is in power the opposition are going to knock them. This is all going to cost the taxpayer a lot of money but as long as it can be cleared up and save lives that’s all that matters at the end of the day. We were out clapping with most of our road and we have teddy bares in the window. All the NHS need a Gold Medal for what they are doing.
10. Will the sport resume at some stage e.g. in 2021, and will it have changed in participation and character?
There is a slight chance we can get the odd race or two in before the season finishes if people stay indoors. We do need to change the way we do things in the sport but making changes is not easy.
11. How are we all to attend to the welfare needs of the pigeons and the people under lockdown conditions?
We have to look after the welfare of the pigeons because they rely on their owners to see that they are looked after and have the best they can. Some fanciers are in lockdown due to due to health reasons and cannot go to their lofts so rely on others to do it for them, which as we know it’s not the same as looking after your own. What I do think is some lofts could be made by the delay because some will have a better team for the 20121 season, they will not have lost so many from across the channel.
12. How do you see the current role of the RPRA??
That’s a tough question because the RPRA are changing the way they do things and looking at other options. It is a case of unless you are with them and in the know you don’t know what they are planning for the future. The sport does need to change but there are too many stages for change to go through before they get to the top table, by then most have gone off the idea so far too often things stay as they are.
13. Are distance and marathon races conducive to mental satisfaction and happy states of mind-perhaps of a spiritual nature?
I don’t know of the spiritual nature, but I have always got more satisfaction from the longer races, it’s great to see a pigeon homing in good time from near 700mls as we have done. The first time I clocked from Pau in the National I stood there in front of the loft with tears on my cheeks and Elizabeth being told to get me to clock it in. this blue Dordin cock finished 45th Open 684mls, we have had a few good results in the Grand National Race, very satisfying.
14. Can you name some great men and their birds of the past, to enlighten us??
I have recently written an article on this subject because I have handled sore great pigeons over the years and met some great fanciers. On selection of pigeons Gust Taveirne was top class, I have seen him select some really good pigeons. His partner Frans Rigole is also very good when it comes to selection, they selected some class pigeons that came over to the UK but never got the credit they deserved. Continental fanciers who I have been impressed with include, Emile Denys, Mark Pollin, Maurice Mattheuws and Joop Koch, there are probably others who I have been impressed with whose names don’t come to mind, must be my age. Nearer home I cannot go past Mark Gilbert who has more energy around pigeons than anyone else I know, always on the go, always thinking about pigeons. I was very impressed with John Squibb when I met him. I spent quite a bit of time with Bill Carney and he really knew pigeons. Nearer home we have the late Denis Gleave who I always thought was one of the best in the country. Eddie Newcombe was impressive when we met him up in Scotland. You cannot go far wrong with Geoff Kirkland who has been a top fancier for many years. Brian Denny another top fancier at my kind of distance, George Stubbs from Sandbach is another who I rated very highly. There will no doubt be more who I could rate but we must stop somewhere. I have met so many top fanciers who I have written about many times. Better not finish without adding Ray Lunt who is a personal friend but also one of the best fanciers I have come across and straight talking. Not forgetting Germain Imbrecht an all-time great, there I go again adding but there are so many. When it comes to the continental lofts I have had a few good people who have made the initial introductions, the late Hans Verschuren being one of them.
Les, a rather young Kim, Elizabeth and the gtrea Eddie Newcombe
Les, Hans Verschueren, Germain Imbrecht, Frans Rigole
Hans Verschueren, Joop Kock and Les J parkinson
Dr Ferdi Vandersanden, Geoff Kirkland and Les J Parkinson
Les J Parkinson and Marc Pollin
15. Will International racing resume with the BICC from France and Spain?
We quite easily could with the young birds, this is something that we will not know until the Government decide to relax conditions. They are under enough pressure now from the press who do most of the scare mongering. The problem is the further south we go the worse they are being hit with the coronavirus. I wrote a bit about this in one of my articles. We don’t get the freezing weather over the winter months to kill germs like we did in the 50’s and 60’s. We used to play outside with just a shirt on when the snow was about for weeks on end, doesn’t happen today because we don’t get enough freezing weather because of the climate change. Getting back to the question of racing this year. If the coronavirus peaks in the next month we could get some racing in.
16. Can you perceive further changes in technology in the way you organise Elimar?
I don’t stand still and am in the process of installing a new Auction system, I thought it would have been done before now but the improvements caused a conflict of interest between the old and new systems. I have had a few ideas put my way, but I want to keep everything to be as straight forward as possible. I see no point in complicating things more than they need to be. If something comes along, I am willing to look at it, we should never say no without looking into something that might or has the possibilities to improve what we are doing.
17. Do you believe in traditional strain building?
I think there are more fanciers in the UK who could lay claim to building their own strain than anywhere else in the world. There are many fanciers who keep to the same strain as a base and only bring in a new pigeon if it is bred right and then they don’t put too much of the line in until it is proven. On the continent they swap and change all over the place and then they come over here as big winners, they become the latest fashion and bring high prices. Then when you study the pedigree’s they have all sorts in them. I have always thought there are as good a pigeon to buy from lofts in the UK as anywhere. I think that if fanciers went for good pigeons instead of fashion they would win more.
18. Do you sell some supplements for pigeons and birds themselves?
I only sell the BIFS products because I have found they work and in particular Vior, the one product I would never be without. I have always said that the best way is to use a brand of products and then move on to another. But then I found Bifs and stuck to them, I could sell other products on the site but with not trying them I don’t know if they are good enough to meet expectations. One thing I don’t think fanciers should do and that is mix and match from different brands. Companies make a range of products to work together and if you use others then you don’t always get the best out of them.
19. How do you wish to be remembered after years of total dedication??
I think through being an official in club, fed, combine and classic all of which have improved when I have done them. I am also hoping that the Elimar site has been a useful tool for fanciers far and wide. I have always worked with helping the everyday fancier in mind.
20. More comments.
Pigeon racing is a great hobby and there to enjoy, the one thing I would like to see is more taking responsibility and working together at the clubs. By working together everything becomes easier for everyone.