“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
‘Show Racer World’ Number12.
Roland & Julie Thresher of Minehead.
I have known Roland and Julie Thresher for many years and I often see them at most of the major winter shows, when I’m judging and they are competing. The Minehead couple are very successful with their Show Racers and I have asked them for an article many times, but I now call Roland the ‘Dentist’, as trying to get info from him is like pulling teeth! Finally we pinned him down on the floor, with his arm up his back and he came across and gave us some info, so I could give him a bit of credit for his brilliant performance at the 2015 BHW Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’. Roland is the third part of four generations of pigeon fanciers in the Thresher family, with his father and grandfather both being outstanding racers, and now his son, David, is taking up racing pigeons, and recorded 1st section D in the 2014 NFC Carentan race. Roland’s parents, Graham and Gwen Thresher live in Alcombe and they won ‘Supreme Champion’ at the BHW Blackpool Show in January 2013 with their champion racing blue white flight cock, ‘Ponderosa Boy’. The handsome cock won nine firsts at premier shows and was bred from Ponderosa UK Stud Delbar stock birds. The January of 2015 saw Roland and Julie Thresher have some brilliant success showing their birds, with them winning ‘Supreme Champion’ at the BHW Blackpool Show with their champion blue cock, ‘Wilson’. What a wonderful weekend that was!
Roland has been in pigeons all his life, but had his first Show Racers at the age of ten in 1974 and they were obtained from a local fancier by the name of George Ensley. His father, Graham, purchased him his first serious pair Show Racers from Stan Merry of Essex in 1978 and he paid a whacking £25 for that pair of blue chequers, and Stan also gifted him a very nice red chequer cock. He produced a few winners from that original pair, but it transpired that the family threw a lot of eleven flighted birds. The early days were very much a learning time about the Show Racers for the young Roland and he only kept eight pairs in a neat 8ft x 6ft loft. His first major success as a junior was to win Best in Show at the Cullumpton Open Show and his first club was the Devon & Cornwall Show Racer Society, and he is still a member today, now being joint secretary with his wife, Julie. The Devon & Cornwall SRS Have their HQ in Bampton and the twenty members enjoy four major society events every winter. For the last two years Roland and Julie have won the Society’s over all ‘Supreme Champion’, which is awarded to the winner of an all winners show at the end of the season.
Roland and Julie were married in 2007 and Roland tells me she dose the biggest part of the pigeon work in the loft, especially in the winter when her hours are cut at work. The partner’s loft is a 36ft ‘L’ shape structure with four sections and a full length corridor, and this loft houses the 40 pairs of show birds. The show team live on sloping perches in the show season, with a sprinkle of sand on the loft floor and they are cleaned out twice a day. Roland says, they try and keep bird numbers to a minimum, so not to over crowd the loft and wild bird are never tolerated. The normal traditional wooden nest boxes are used and are removed from the show loft in the winter months. Roland and Julie like routine and the birds are fed at the same time every day on a good mixture, which is heavy with farm tic beans. Roland has his own potion, which he has made up at the local chemist and this is in the water pretty much all the time. He tells me most of the conditioning of the birds for the show pen is done through the drinking water. The ten pairs of stock birds are housed in a 10ft x 6ft loft and all the birds are paired up at the end of February. Julie told me, the partner like to keep the pigeons as natural as possible and like the longer days for their breeding, which she says produces better youngsters. They breed about sixty youngsters every season, with some them being gifted to other fancier and these are given pen training at the loft. The babies have about eight shows in their first season and sometimes go to their first event carrying their last flight. Roland and Julie like to show their birds once every two week through the season and like to compete at all the National events every winter. Their build up for the BHW Blackpool Show would be no showing for at least two weeks before the event and a steady increase of tic beans in the feeding.
Roland has judged at every National pigeon show in the UK through the years and judged a National show in Australia in 2013. The loft has won at all premier shows in the UK and have been Best in Show many times. The partners 2015 ‘Supreme Champion’ at the BHW Blackpool ‘Show of the Year’ was their three year old blue cock, Champion ‘Wilson’ and he was bred by Allister Tankard. He was named after Allister’s late father, Wilson Tankard, and was bred from a Roland Thresher cock, with the Threshers getting the first cock youngster back off the pair, which was ‘Wilson’. He has won first at major shows every season, with the highlight being: 2014: Best in Show South West SRS: 2015: ‘Supreme Champion’ of Great Britain at the BHW Blackpool Show. Other top pigeons at the Minehead loft are: “Julie’ winner of eight major shows and twice ‘Reserve Champion’. 2011: British Show Racer Federation Champion at the BHW Blackpool Show. She was an outstanding breeding hen. “Sargent Major’ winner of: 2014: 1st British Show Racer Federation class at the BHW Blackpool Show. Also the winner at sixteen open shows. Roland tells me his best Show Racer ever was his 1997 bred Mosaic WF hen, ‘Tammy’ and to say she was a champion would be an understatement. The wonderful pigeon was very tame and won forty firsts at major shows, plus five times Best in Show. ‘Tammy’ was Champion Young Bird and Champion Old Bird at the Devon & Cornwall SRS Shows, and won firsts at the BHW Blackpool Show as a young bird and as a ten year old. Absolutely fantastic! She was a champion breeder, producing many top winners for the Thresher loft. ‘Tammy’ was bred from Ted and David Bramley of Derby bloodlines and dam, a beautiful mosaic white flight hen was purchased by Roland at Pontypool Open Show selling class for £10. He says it was the best £10 he ever spent, with her breeding winner after winner!
The Threshers told me that the Show Racer partnership of Denis and Sandra McKane of St. Sampson in Guernsey have been their good friends for many years and the premier show man Jimmy Fitzpatrick of the Fitzpatrick & Fleming partnership of Cambuslang near Glasgow has been their close friend and pigeon ‘mentor’ for many years. Roland told me, ‘Jimmy is the greatest and has helped me a great deal over the years with advice and pigeons, and he bred my champion hen, ‘Julie’, for me in 2007’. For his perfect Show Racer, Roland likes a blue chequer of medium size, with a nice natural apple body in the hand and it must have good head. Roland’s only regret is that there is not enough young fanciers coming in to pigeons these days and fears it could be detrimental to the sport in the years to come. There you have it, Roland and Julie Thresher of Minehead!
Wullie Young, the pigeon racing poet.
My good friend, Wullie ‘Billy’ Young, lives in a studio flat in Woking and now races his pigeons to a small loft on the allotments at Witley. He has worked very hard through the winter months to get his pigeons and chickens established on the new site and he is looking forward to spending many long summers’ days sitting in his shed with a cup of tea in his hand, waiting for his pigeons, coming home from the long distance races. Wullie is a Scottish lad who loves pigeon racing and really enjoys writing poetry when he finds the time. These are two of his latest efforts, which I thought were very good!
There is a country that I call home
It's hills and mountains I did roam
But there is still places I have not been
And some beautiful things I have not seen
Places like the haunting but wonderful Glencoe
Some of the sites in the amazing city of Glasgow
Then the east coast and the granite city of Aberdeen
So many places and sites of beauty I've never seen
I've been away from this country and its people far too long
But in my heart it's the only place that I feel I belong
The sound of the pipes and drums send shivers down my spine
All its beauty and its entire people, in my heart I will enshrine
The Sport of Kings.
Racing pigeons, the sport of Kings
Athletes that have two wings
Flying home from places across the sea
A great achievement don’t you agree
Saving many lives in two world wars
Bringing messages back to our shores
Racing pigeons the sport of Kings
Not as some might say rats with wings
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)