“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT
‘Show Racer World’ Number 7
Jill & David Fisher of Bideford
We all made the drive up to Blackpool in mid-January 2016 for the main event of the Show Racer calendar, the 44th British Homing World ‘Show of the Year’. That year’s event attacked a show entry of 2,000 birds and Roy Musto had the job of judging the special this time, including Best in Show. Best in Show over all at Blackpool was won by a young Show Racer mosaic cock owned by Jill and Dave Fisher of Bideford in Cornwall and when I spoke to Jill after the event she said, that the partners were thrill to win Best in Show and this performance was their best to date. The handsome cock is now named, ‘Valentino’ and is a young bird champion in the truest sense of the word, winning: BIS South West SRS young bird show, then first in the all winners class to be nominated in to the BSRF class at Blackpool, to win that and Best in Show. A fantastic achievement!
Terry Haley, Steve Howard and myself make the 240 mile drive down to Bodmin in Cornwall in December 2016 to judge the South West Show Racer Societies annual Open Show. The December open is the sister show to the Duchy Show which is held every November and is open to any fanciers in the UK and John Robilliard tells me they come from as far away as Wales, Gloucestershire and the Midlands to compete. The show’s 37 classes are for Show Racers and Racing Pigeons, and that year’s event attracted a 595 bird entry. All the judges on the day were given the task of judging the specials from the 37 class winners and with the quality of the pigeon there, what a hard job that was! We awarded ‘Best in Show’ (Show Racer), ‘Best Young Bird’ (Show Racer) and ‘Supreme Champion’ to a beautiful 2016 bred mosaic cock, owned by David and Jill Fisher of Bideford and that wonderful pigeon was a son of their champion cock, ‘Valentino’, winner of ‘Best In Show’ at the BHW Blackpool Show in 2016. I had five great classes of pigeons to judge and picked a wonderful young mosaic cock from my mosaics class to be the best pigeon I handled that day and he then went on to win ‘Supreme Champion’ for David and Jill Fisher. A very satisfying result!
Both Dave & Jill Fisher were born and brought up in and around the Bideford area and Jill’s dad is Mervyn Patt, an old friend of mine and he has been a pigeon fancier all his life. Jill’s first pigeon was a dark chequer cock given to her by her dad at around the age of three or four and she followed her dad into pigeon showing and initially entered Children’s classes at a very young age. Jill was later told that she apparently had the knack of always recognising her own bird at the show, much to her dad’s amusement. All through her childhood, Jill had pigeons and when she reached her teens, Mervyn provided her with a three or four pairs and a spare compartment and later her own loft to keep and look after her own birds. Family friend Percy Mitchell was also there on hand with a couple more birds to help with the mix and Jill was by then entering the open classes and one of her memories was of winning BIS at a Devon & Cornwall show at the age of 16, with a mealy hen. When she started work, other teenage interests in boys, music and clothes unfortunately distracted Jill from her birds and meant that she took a break from them, although she always had an interest and enjoyed the odd trip to a show with her dad when he was judging and needed a steward. In the mid 1970’s, dad had also started a racer stud and by the late 1990’s had run a stand at the Blackpool Show for many years on which he sold mainly racers, along with the odd few show racers. Around 1998, Mervyn asked Jill if she could help out on the stand as one of his normal helpers could not make it. She went and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially when it came to the few show racers that dad had included on his stand. She joined her dad again at Blackpool the following year and this time took along husband Dave as an extra pair of hands was needed. It was at the Blackpool stand in 2000 that Jill first saw an eye catching dark chequer show racer hen of her dad’s that she found she could not bear to put into the sale pen. Jill spent the whole of Saturday with the sale pen write-up for that chequer hen in her pocket. That Saturday night was the turning point and after much discussion, Jill and Dave decided to have a go at keeping a few show racers themselves, starting with a certain dark chequer hen! As a youngster, Dave was a keen football player and played for the North Devon team while he was at school and later played on his work’s football team. Jill has been in the sport 50 years overall, although there was a 20 year gap in the middle and for Dave it has been 16 years. Jill has never raced pigeons and has kept Show Racers only.
I have known Jill’s father, Mervyn Patt, for well over 30 years and when I asked her about his past, she said, ‘Mervyn was brought up with pigeons in the family and his very first birds were a couple that his father gave him when he was just a toddler! Mervyn and his father kept pigeons for a few years until the War and moving house meant that they had to give them up for a while but just a few years. Later Mervyn was back into pigeons, starting again firstly with a few Tipplers and other breeds, before he started to develop a small racing team. Mervyn remembers that at the time corn was rationed to just 7lbs a week and having to supplement the birds' food with a little rice. Being a business man in the making, a young Mervyn was over the moon when his Granddad suggested that he had could sell one of his Tipplers for a princely sum of £3, after he had only paid one shilling and six pence for it! Timing in the birds was a challenge in those early racing days as the only clock was owned by a neighbour and so a sprint down the road to the clock was also required on race days. As a 14 year old Mervyn started to race in his own right as a junior and had a particularly good start, winning five out of the six races available to juniors. Mervyn's good mate Peter Kendall won the 6th of the juniors' races that season. After a stint in the Army doing his national service, my dad continued with the racing, although he laughs that his father did manage to lose a lot of his pigeons while he was away in the Army.
Even though his dog chased her cat and he was truly in the ‘dog house’ for that, Mervyn married Margaret, the girl across the road, in 1955. Mervyn continued to race his birds until they moved house in 1964. At the new house, the position meant that racing was never easy and, although he continued for a while, involving all the family, my dad steered himself more into the Showing side of things and developed a good team of Show Racers. One particular breeding season during the mid-1960's was a very fraught one for my dad when his little girl, Jill, decided that it would be good to try and help feed the show racers by herself and then, while the birds were off their nests eating, she took all the tiny (un-rung!) youngsters plus any un-hatched eggs for a nice little trip around the garden in the empty corn bucket. Jill could never quite understand why her dad did not seem that pleased when he came home & discovered what had happened!! My dad encouraged all four of his children, Jill, Jeanette, Michael and Denise into pigeons; each were given their own “pet” pigeon which they could enjoy taking along to the shows and entering in the Children’s class. Not all four children were totally “pigeon wise” in those early days ?when something happened to a young Michael’s red chequer cock “Steve”, it was quietly replaced by a dark chequer hen. When Michael questioned his dad as to why his ‘Steve’ looked different, he was told that it had moulted of course and had changed colour. Dads are always to be believed, so it was quite a few years before Michael realised that something very strange had happened during that particular moulting season! Extra pocket money was also to be earned by the children in helping to clean out the lofts. Dad was always ready with an up-turned bucket for them to stand on if the traps or perches were too high to reach with the scrape!
The 1970's where a decade when Mervyn was showing in earnest with a young Jill doing her best to follow in his footsteps. Margaret was often heard to say that they could never go anywhere without a pigeon being on the end of it! The 1970's also saw the start of the ‘Ven Lofts’ Racing Stud, with the purchase of Van Hee Busschaerts and later the Stichelbauts and Kirkpatrick lines too. Mervyn's successful racing stud was behind some very well know birds, including his good friend, the late Freddie Elliott’s 1st open NFC Nantes winner, Champion ‘Euro Lad’. ‘Ven Lofts’ bred Fred Elliott’s 1st SMT Combine Rennes winner, ‘Euro Bird’ and in turn he was the sire of Champion ‘Euro Lad’. The 1980s / 1990's had seen my dad concentrate on the Racing Stud. but when I developed the showing bug again in 2000, and me and hubby Dave decided to give it a go. My dad was not far behind in getting back into showing and leading the way. Even though he is now in his eighties, he still enjoys the showing side of things, especially when he can enjoy a piece of cake or bowl of trifle (or both!) at the show and then has a red card & rosette to go home with’.
The partner’s current loft is 31ft long, divided into four 6ft x 6ft compartments, housing old cocks, young cocks, old hens and young hens separately. The remainder is split into two smaller sections, which can be opened up into one larger section as required. This extra space is used to house a few spare birds during the breeding season and acts as an over-flow, on the occasions where we have an in-balance in the ration of cocks to hens. The floors in each section are split between solid floor & grids. The grids are lifted and cleaned out at least once a week and the solid part of the floor is scrapped at least once a day. Along the front of the loft, each section has access to its own flight (traps) where the birds are bathed and enjoy the fresh air. During the winter, Perspex sheets are used on the front of these flights to prevent any strong drafts from catching the birds and these flights are generally closed at night and opened through the day unless conditions are really bad. Under the flights in the four main sections are the next boxes, which are boarded up when not in use. Along the back of the loft there is a 4ft wide corridor which contains some pens. This corridor is especially useful when basketing for a show as it gives plenty of space. Jill told me, ‘in a good loft design, I think it is important for both the birds and the fancier to be comfortable. If it is a pleasure to be in the loft yourself, I think you are more inclined to spend more time looking after the needs of the birds. We have used various methods of deep litter floor covering in the past but our preference is for the floors to be bare and scrapped each day. One of the many advantages of this is that you can instantly see any change in droppings’.
The Fisher partners keep 24 pairs of Show Racers and they are normally paired up in the first or second week in February. During the breeding season the birds are given a first class breeding mixture, with the addition of a strong mix of Maple Peas, Tic Beans and Tares. During the showing season the feeding id hardened up, so they are given mainly peas, beans and tares. The origins of our current show team were mainly from Mervyn Patt, but with crosses over the years from a few different show fanciers. Jill and Dave enjoy introducing a couple of new birds each year and experimenting with the results of crossing them with their existing team. They breed in the region of 45 to 50 young birds each season and Dave says they are very wary that for every young bird bred an old bird has to go, to keep the number manageable. Jill is currently Chairman of the Devon & Cornwall SRS and her occupation is in tooling sales and technical support for a multi-national connector manufacturer. Dave’s occupation is a postman / driver for an Agricultural company. Apart from Jill’s dad, one of her sisters, Denise and also two of her nieces are interested in the sport and have a small team of their own.
When I asked Jill about advising new starters in the sport she said, ‘firstly enjoy your time with your pigeons in the loft and go to as many shows as you can and look and listen. Listen to all points of view and advice; some you may agree with and some you may not but after a short time, you will soon find what methods of keeping your birds suit both you and them best. Extra tips from experienced fanciers will help along the way. When selecting birds to keep, remember that you are with them 365 days a year, so make sure that they pleasing to you first. The judge sees them for the day but you get to take them home afterwards’. The Fisher partners keep a range of colours and of the birds in there is a family and are related to some degree. Dave told me, ‘we only breed late breds in certain circumstances, for instance, where there is a particular pair that we would like an extra youngster from or may be where the pair took a while to settle down or did not produce early youngsters for some reason. Most of our birds are fairly quiet and this is a real bonus in the show pen’. Needless to say Jill and Dave think the moult is very important and give their birds a general feed mixture at this time of the year. General cleaning and regular baths are essential and their birds are parted in June. Congratulations to Jill and Dave on their wonderful Blackpool success!
Berkshire & District Federation
Paul Stowell’s brilliant pigeon racing career has spanned over 50 year and it has seen him win the UBI Combine five times, the Berkshire Federation 38 times and an RPRA Southern Region Loft Performance Award. A staggering record! He tells me his best performance to date was 1st section A, 1st open in the British Barcelona Club National from Bordeaux 437 miles, with his wonderful dark blue grizzle hen, Champion ‘Emma Louise’ and this was achieved in 1998. Paul is well known for putting up outstanding performances every season and in 2016 his young birds were on ‘fire’ recording some really good performances including: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Berkshire Federation Kingsdown (97 miles). Paul is not only an outstanding pigeon racer, but is also a great worker for the sport, including for his beloved Berkshire Federation. He is the Federation President and spends a lot of his time working tirelessly for the organization. Paul ran a successful Federation Breeder / Buyer sale and open race in the 2018 racing season and tells me there will another one in 2019.
In the autumn of 2017 the Berkshire Federation decided to replace their existing expensive to run transporter with a more modern and more economical vehicle. The President spent many hours trying to source the type of vehicle that the Federation were looking for and eventually found the vehicle and it was duly purchased. The existing racking was taken from the old lorry adapted and fitted into the replacement lorry. Ventilation panels were put in the existing curtain sides and the front and rear of the lorry had graphics applied as can be seen in the photographs. The lorry can accommodate 1500 birds and was used in the 2018 season when members enjoyed a very successful flying season.
The Federation comprises of seven clubs these being: Basingstoke & District RPC, Shinfield (Reading), Burnham (Slough), Bedfont, Buffalos (West Drayton), Sunningdale and West Farnborough. The main Committee members are: President - Paul Stowell, Chairman- Maurice Sweetzer, Secretary / Treasurer Dave Siggery, Race Secretary- Peter Worley and Race Controller Tony Stacey. The Federation convoy their own birds to all Inland race points and are convoyed by the Solent South Road Federation to a select number of Channel Races.
The premier prize winners for the 2018 season were: Mr. & Mrs. Eddie and Joyce Kulpa of the Shinfield Club who won ‘The Courage Cup’ for the longest old bird race, ‘The Bob Readings Memorial Cup’ for most old bird 1st positions, which resulted in a three way tie with Geoff Snelling of West Farnborough and Steve & Paul Kulpa of the Shinfield club. ‘The Berkshire Cup’ for the winner of the second overseas race also ‘The Tom Absoln Cup’ for the lowest winning velocity on a Channel Race. ‘The Harkers Shield’ for the Combined O/B and Y/B averages, ‘Borough of Reading Cup’ for continental average, ‘The Federation Cup’ for the old bird average, ‘The Daisy Page Silver Cup’ for the winner of the third overseas race. A truly marvellous season and winnings by a great partnership, many congratulations.
‘The Points Shield’ for combined old bird and young bird races was won by the Sunningdale Club, many congratulations to all the members of this very competitive club. John Waldron of the Sunningdale club won ‘The Metts Trophy’ for the winner of the first overseas race. Paul Johnson and Partner won the ‘Berkshire 2 Bird Shield’ for the winners of the two bird average in the longest race, many congratulations to them.
Steve, Brian and Jamie Perkins of the Sunningdale Club won ‘The Maria Stowell Memorial Trophy’ for the most 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions in the Federation and also the ‘P. Clark Memorial Cup’ for the best young bird average, ‘Daisy Page Cup’ winner longest Y/B race, well done Steve, Brian and Jamie. Geoff Snelling of the West Farnborough club won the ‘Federation Shield’ for the winner of the old bird Inland average, well done Geoff always a great competitor. Nice to see a younger member getting his reward with Owen Abery of the Shinfield Club winning the ‘Peter Rowlands Shield’ for the best performance club novice for winning 3rd Club, 8th Federation Kingsdown on the 12th August and 13th Club, 30th Federation Yeovil on the 26th May, congratulations Owen.
Federation members who topped the Federation in the 2018 season were: Steve & Paul Kulpa of Shinfield with three times 1st Federation, all from Yeovil, Robbie Quinn of West Farnborough won 1st Federation Kingsdown, 1st Federation Yeovil. Geoff Snelling of West Farnborough recorded 1st Federation Yeovil, 1st Federation Kingsdown, 1st Federation Yeovil. John Waldron of Sunningdale Club won 1st, 2nd Federation,1st, 2nd Amalgamation with the Solent Federation from Fougeres (1), a great performance and very much deserved. P & Dave Vass won 1st Federation Kingsdown (twice), 1st Federation Yeovil, Mr. & Mrs. Eddie and Joyce Kulpa of Shinfield won 1st Federation Fougeres (2), 1st Federation Kingsdown, 1st Federation Poitiers, Laz Gorman of Burnham recorded 1st Federation Exeter. Steve & Brian Perkins of Sunningdale, flying as Jamie Perkins won 1st Federation Yeovil, 1st Federation Kingsdown (twice), 1st Federation Yeovil winning the Federation three weeks on the trot, John and Darren Watson of Bedfont won 1st Federation Kingsdown, 1st Federation Yeovil (twice). Finally the last race from Yeovil was won by the Federation Race Controller, Tony Stacey, flying as Stacey and son. Well done Tony nice to see that there is still life in the old boy!
The Berkshire Federation will be holding its AGM at The Polish Club in Slough on Sunday 27th January and would welcome any new clubs wishing to join who are within our radius which is 30 miles from the centre of Reading.
Three Borders Federation
The Three Borders Federation held it’s AGM at the Vandals Rugby Club on 4th December and at a general meeting held after, it was decided that the 2019 race programme will be: (OB) 6th April - Blandford, 13th April - Blandford, 20th April - Yeovil, 27th April - Honiton, 4th May - Kingsdown, 11th May Okehampton, 18th May Bodmin, 25th May Honiton, 1st June Wadebridge, 8th June Kingsdown, 15th June Truro, 22nd June Yeovil, 29th June Honiton, 6th July Penzance, (YB) 27th July Blandford, 3rd August Yeovil, 10th August Blandford, 17th August Yeovil, 24th August Blandford, 31st August Yeovil, 7th September Kingsdown, 14th September - Newton Abbot.
Well that’s it for this week! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT