THE 2012 SOMERSET YOUNG BIRD ONE LOFT RACE
September 9th 2012
by Kevin Spencer
On 8th September 2012 my wife Joan and I travelled from the Algarve in Portugal to Pilton in Somerset, England to see the final race in the Somerset One Loft Race, organised by Terry Williams and his wife Jane. The race point was from Ypres in Belgium, amounting to some 265 miles, as the crow flies, over the English Channel and back to their fabulous pigeon lofts in Pilton, Somerset.
We had eleven pigeons that had made it through to the final and they had been performing very well in the previous Hot Spot Races so we were hopeful of a good result in the final race. Our birds were bred by our friend and partner in the race “Ken Cardwell” from Blackpool and were mainly Van Reets, descended from the original Bert Hession Van Reets but Ken has made the family his own by being very selective with the birds over many years.
We arrived to sunshine at Bristol Airport and one of Terry Williams’ friends, Pete, had offered to collect us and take us down to the loft in Pilton, where we met Terry’s wife Jane. Terry and Jane had booked us into a lovely Bed and Breakfast close-by called Weavers Bridge. After showing us briefly around, Jane ran us to Weavers Bridge where we checked in. We then walked the short walk back to Terry and Jane’s house where Jane kindly cooked us an evening meal.
At the loft, Terry and Jane had erected a marquee tent for the 200 or so guests arriving for the final day (September 9th) and Jane had been very busy preparing a huge amount of food creating a wonderful buffet for all to enjoy during the course of the day. Terry, meanwhile, had been driving the 549 birds to Belgium for the final race liberation.
Following a good night's sleep on the 8th we arrived at the loft on the morning of the 9th. The marquee tent was already buzzing with excitement. There was a raffle ongoing with the proceeds going to the Charity SENSE. There was also a competition for guessing the time of the first bird to arrive. The local BBC Radio were also present as they were interested in what was going on there.
The birds had been liberated at 07.30 into a slight face wind, so the general view was that they would arrive anytime from 13.30 onwards. At 13.49 a large blue pigeon arrived and landed on one of the landing boards, hesitated for a short while then with encouraging whistles from Jane, it trapped at 13.51. The winning bird was owned by Lindum Lofts and it was the “Champion,” winning £15,000 - what a bird!!
We had to wait a further 25 minutes or so before another bird arrived and when it did it sat on the loft roof, clearly rattled. Jane was whistling and urging the bird to trap when suddenly a third bird arrived and hit the landing board. This triggered the 2nd pigeon to arrive to land next to him on the same landing board. They both took turns at charging the traps and stopping before the 3rd pigeon to arrive (a large mealy) trapped and won the £5,000 prize for Cannock Connection. The bird which had arrived 2nd then trapped in 3rd position winning £3,000 for Duncan Kittow - what drama! 4th place was then taken by Ridding Lofts winning £1,000.
Terry arrived back with his transporter and promptly brought out the Champion bird owned by Lindum Lofts, so it could be photographed. It was a big blue bar hen and she is a great specimen.
A further 29 pigeons arrived before nightfall making 33 in total on the day.
A special mention should go to Mauger Lofts. The two guys travelled over from the Channel Islands to see the final and they had 2 day birds finishing 24th and 25th. Well done!
In the evening, a comedian and singer, together with lots of pizza was the evenings entertainment in the large marquee and everyone I spoke with, had had a really wonderful time.
We returned to the lofts early next morning on the 10th September (Monday) to see many more pigeons had arrived and to check if ours were amongst them. Thanks to Terry’s great conditioning of the pigeons during training, getting them ready for this tough test, birds were raining in and our best performer, in the name of Mistral Marauders who had won £500 in the final hot spot race from Folkstone, was now home safe and sound in 72nd open Ypres he was also 7th acebird. We got three more birds back finishing 97th open Ypres and he was 27th Acebird and 153rd.and 224th open Ypres.
After the race we celebrated a good day by sampling the local fish and chips along with two guys who had travelled over from the Channel Islands to see the final, Tricky and Paul from Mauger Lofts, Pete and his wife, Terry and Jane Williams our hosts and ourselves.
228 birds have returned in race time. My wife Joan and I had left Somerset and gone to see our relatives in Yorkshire while we were in the UK after especially coming to the UK to see this great spectacle in Somerset.
Both Joan and I experienced a brilliant time with Terry and Jane and the whole weekend appeared a great success where everyone came away having had a good time despite what position their bird came back.
I do not think that anyone could have put on a better show in a One Loft Race than Terry and Jane Williams and, in my opinion, this Somerset Race has to be the toughest, but fairest test in Europe. It is a fantastic advertisement for our great sport of pigeon racing. Well done to everyone who took part in making this (in my opinion) the greatest one loft race in Europe.
We will be back next year to try win this great race again.