NFC Certificate of Merit Award winner 2018
This article is the second in this years (2018) series about individual pigeons and their owners that have won an NFC Certificate of Merit. They have done this by having a pigeon fly from Tarbes three times and getting three times in at least the first 100 Open places. The subject of this article exceeded this requirement massively. She did in fact get in the first 30 places three times.
To put a name to this pigeon - She is a 4 year old Blue Hen called 'Proud Mary' and her owner is Andy Parsons of Salisbury. . To further build a wider picture of the Parsons loft I will also include in part II further information about Andy's other Certificate of Merit winner of 2013 - 'Red Cloud'.
‘Proud Mary’ NFC Certificate of Merit award winner 2018 - Three times in the top 30 National from Tarbes - Bred and raced by Andy Parsons Salisbury Wiltshire.
As most will now know since 1979, when this award first started, there have been very few winners. To be more exact up to and including 2017 there have been only 38 awards granted but only 37 individual pigeons (one pigeon won two awards). This is an incredibly small number if we consider the thousands of Federation, Combine and Cub winners and the hundreds of National winners over the same period. It is therefore obvious that this award is very rare and by it's nature (three times over three seasons most times crossing the sea either in ones or two’s) is therefor impossible to fluke. So here we are dealing with pigeons that are special but, because they don’t come with a strain name, are, by and large, overlooked by modern fanciers.
There is always a trigger moment for all marathon men when they change from Club and Federation competition to National racing. This trigger moment happened to Andy Parsons when he raced a very good consistent club pigeon that won channel races in the club and finally won the clubs longest race from Bergerac.
Inspired by this hen, Andy decided to send her the following year to the Nantes National. This was in 1988. She was 26th open from 10,000 pigeons. The next step was the NFC Longest Race - it was Pau in those days. .
George Burgess of Wraysbury near Windsor won the race that year beating 4,500 pigeons. (George is to play a big part later in this story). Andy’s hen in 1988 was 175th open. The effect of being 175th open from the NFC’s longest race, usually considered the most difficult race in the calendar, was profound. Andy found he felt that couldn’t put the pigeon down even after she was clocked and recorded - This was a high emotional moment. Unconsciously he wanted to hang on to her for ever. . In light of Andy’s later performances, 175th open Pau was not very significant but at the time it was mind blowing and because of this seemingly insignificant but mind blowing event a change occurred in Andy’s thinking.
This change happened because, for the first time, Andy had experienced reliability and National class in a pigeon. This was of a different quality he had experienced before in club and Federation racing. . It was a move from being a local man to becoming a ‘National’ man, from an unreliable world to a reliable world, from a world of indifferent quality to a world of high quality. Andy got rid of his club pigeons and decided to go National.
As we all now know this reliable world was eventually going to get even more reliable and to eventually deliver two ‘NFC Certificate of Merit Award’ winners but strangely enough this drama, this awakening, wasn’t about money, it was about something much more important. It was about achievement.
Let us now come to this years Certificate of Merit winner ‘Proud Mary’. Proud Mary was not raced as a youngster but was extensively trained. I think that the fact she was not raced as a young bird is significant. This kind of easy life allowed her grow to maturity without experiencing pain or hardship but at the same time deeply absorbing her surroundings, her environment and strengthening her love of home.
As a yearling again she was again lightly managed having just two short channel races so here we have a pigeon that throughout her life has had only nine races in total - three of which were from Tarbes. Nevertheless Andy stresses training or an easy life is not the whole picture. With pigeons of this class good breeding is not only essential but it is a top priority. Andy is always anxious to give full credit to breeders of past and present who have, by their efforts and generosity, have contributed to his family.
The dam of ‘Proud Mary’ was bred by George Burgess (previously mentioned). George is a good friend of Andy for it was the Burgess pigeons that were at the start of Andy’s change from club and Fed to his National Tarbes racing. This pigeon is a good example of the Parson breeding policy. The breeding of her Dam is of the Titmus, Fear, Cannon, Venner bloodlines and because she was of the old bloodlines she was now reintroduced to put back as a cross to the originals. Andy continues to adopt this tried and tested breeding policy. Breeding is above all an intellectual exercise and just as important as management.
The sire of ‘Proud Mary is a pigeon introduced from another of Andy’s friend, Keith Bush of Cossall in Nottinghamshire so ‘Proud Mary’ is a cross. The source of the cross Keith Bush is himself a Certificate of Merit award winner and a dedicated marathon flyer. Those who notice such things might have noticed the ‘Bush’ blood also contributed to the Award winning pigeon of my first article this year, that of Steven Redfern of Derby. This coincidence should not go unnoticed by those who are attempting to emulate similar feats of marathon flying. The Bush pigeons of course, go back generations to Keith’s father who was a Kings Cup champion of the North Road when the NRCC was at it’s height, This was in the immediate years before World War II disrupted everything so there is a long history there.
Andy’s words are “that when one has to get ones head around the breeding side of the sport you are on your way to producing a capable and reliable family.” This creative and intellectual aspect of the sport is in danger of being lost in the modern world as it now tend to put the priority of winning above the essential art of breeding.
An illustration of this change is a recent story Andy told me of a fancier who telephoned to buy two cocks. Andy told him he had already sorted his pigeons so if he sold him two cocks he would only get the worst ones so it would be much better to delay buying and buy some youngsters the following year where he might get something good.
The fancier thankfully took this immediate advice - I for one hopes he will return and buy youngsters as Andy suggested. It certainly was good advice although good advice is not always taken in the climate of fear and strong opinionated thinking the sport happens to be in nowadays.
The performances of ‘Proud Mary’ are simply outstanding. She has outdriven the qualifying criteria by miles. Her palmares - three times in the top 30 Open places from Tarbes would in previous years have made her a famous bird if she had been purchased by a well known stud prepared to display her photograph week after week. Unfortunately today hardly anyone has heard of her.
Award winning NFC Tarbes performances of ‘Proud Mary’.
2116 2nd section 27th Open
2117 5th section 29th Open
2118 5th Section 14th Open
‘Proud Mary must certainly have a chance of being regarded as the most consistent pigeon in the UK at the moment and in the league of such historic names as ‘Cinderella’ - Twilight - Lol’s Pride and other famous birds of yesteryear.
In part two I will introduce other pigeon mentors who had an influence on the Parson way of thinking. Those mentors were Eric Cannon and his wife. I will also introduce ‘Red Cloud’ Andy’s previous Merit Award winner. The whole story is and was an education to myself and I hope will be an education for readers of these articles and maybe inspire some to take up ’Long Distance Racing’ at National level. The rewards are a new and satisfying way of life brought about from thinking differently.
You will never be the same again once you make the change.