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RPRA Southern Region Show 2018 24-12-18





RPRA Southern Region Show 2018


The month of November saw fanciers make their annual drive up the M40 to High Wycombe for the RPRA Southern Region Show, which is one of the high lights of the show calendar in the South of England every winter. I was judging again this year, with my ol’ mate Wullie Young, stewarding for me and my good mates, Steve Howard and Ron Gammage, were also judging, so we all went to the show in Steve’s car. It was great to be back at the Southern Region Show judging in spite of my ‘dodgy’ leg problem and once again this year’s event didn’t fail to please the many fanciers who attended. This year’s RPRA Southern Region Show held at the Hazlemere Community Centre turned out to be one of the best ever, with over 500 birds entered. The entry for this wonderful event was from all over the UK, including Scotland and Wales, and several of the judges commented on how high the standard of the birds entered was. The funds raised by the show were donated to the Raystede AS and Sebastian’s Action Trust charities. Dom McCoy was doing his usual fund raising for the charities, by sell a load of big tubs of ‘Respro Sani Dry’ loft floor dressing at well under wholesale price and there was a selling class this year, which proved very popular. Dom McCoy has been doing a great job of convoying the Three Borders Federation pigeons for several season and in the 2019 racing season, he and his good friend, Gary Essex will be convoying the National Flying Club pigeons.

Judges this year were: Keith Mott, Steve Howard, Ron Gammage, John Tyerman, J. Hughes, Peter Gretton, John Bell, J. Crawford, Jim McTaggart, P. Halford, Gary Essex, and P. Baker.


I had two great classes of pigeons to judge and picked out two wonderful yearling Show Racer blue chequers to win Classes 3 and 4. The hen, now named ‘Dottie’, then went on to win ‘Best in Show’ for John and Alice Bell of Catrine in Ayrshire. ‘Dottie’ won her class at the BHW Blackpool Show in January 2018 and then went on to win, ‘Best YB in Show’, ‘Best Hen in Show’, ‘Best Opposite Sex Show Racer’ and ‘Best Opposite Sex’ over all with over 2,000 birds competing. Her dam, another beautiful blue chequer hen, won her class on the day at the RPRA Southern Region Show and was ‘Best in Show’ at the Region Show in 2017. John and Alice also won ‘Best Racer in Show’ with beautiful six year old blue chequer pied hen and she had previously won ‘Best in Show’ at the Kingdom of Fife open show (450 birds), and then won ‘Best Racer in Show’ at the Kingdom of Fife in 2017. Talking to John at the Region Show he told me, he had entered eight classes on the day and won six firsts. At the time of writing this article John and Alice had competed in six major open shows and won ‘Best in Show’ six times, and had four Show Racers qualified for the ‘Supreme Champion’ class at the BHW Blackpool Show in January 2019.


John & Alice travelled the 400 miles from Catrine in Ayrshire, Scotland for the High Wycombe Show and this year’s Southern Region ‘Best in Show’ is their third in recent years. I have judged ‘Best in Show’ at the show for the last two years and given the ‘Supreme’ award to a mother and her daughter. ‘Dottie’ was easy to pick out this year because she is world class and now we all know about her previous success at the BHW Blackpool Show in January 2018, her record speak for itself. A fantastic Show Racer! I gave her dam ‘Best in Show’ at the Southern Region Show in 2017 and she is a sister to ‘Bell’s Young Supreme’, the winner of Supreme Champion at the 2016 BHW Blackpool Show and they were both sired by ‘Bell’s Supreme’, the winner of Supreme Champion at the 2011 BHW Blackpool Show. What fantastic family of pigeons! In the six years that John and Alice have competed at the Southern Region Show they have won Best in Show three times and Best Opposite Sex three time, with their daughter, Nicole Bell, also winning Best in Show in 2016 with her wonderful mosaic cock, ‘Mervanic’. When I spoke to the partners at the show, they were highly delighted at winning Best in Show for the third time and said it was well worth the 400 mile drive down from Scotland. A brilliant performance!


Thousands of fanciers made the drive up to Blackpool in mid-January 2018 for the main event of the Show Racer calendar, the 46th British Homing World ‘Show of the Year’. John and Alice Bell won ‘Supreme Champion’ at the Blackpool Show for a record sixth time. There winning pigeon was a wonderful sliver blue hen, now named ‘Mary’s Dream Supreme’ after John’s late mother, Mary and she won Best in Show at the Kingdom of Fife Show (506 birds) to qualify for her place al Blackpool. The Bell show loft has had tremendous success at the Blackpool Show over the years winning: ‘Supreme Champion’ six times, including winning it over the last three years on the trot, Reserve ‘Supreme Champion’ five times, ‘Best in Show’ twice and Reserve ‘Best in Show’ twice. ‘Mary’s Dream Supreme’ is a half-sister to ‘Bell’s Young Supreme’, the Blackpool ‘Supreme Champion’ in 2016. A fantastic achievement! I had a conversation with John after the Blackpool show last January and he told me that they had a bad start to the show season, with Alice going in and out of hospital over the period of the first three major shows, but once she got back in to her roll of the pigeon management they won BIS at the RPRA Southern Region Show (six firsts), BIS at the Kingdom of Fife Show (six firsts) and BIS at the Black Country Show (two firsts). John and Alice had two class winners at the Blackpool Show, with ‘Dottie’, a young blue chequer hen winning ‘Best Opposite Show’ and the loft won ‘Fancier Gaining Best Points’. John told me, ‘I would like to say how important Alice’s hard work is to our good success with our Show Racers; she is a wonderful pigeon fancier’. John & Alice Bell own one of the top Show Racer lofts in the UK at this time.


Class winners were: Class 1: 1st J. & A. Bell, 2nd J. & A. Bell, 3rd J. & A. Bell: Class 2: 1st J. & A. Bell, 2nd J. & A. Bell, 3rd J. & A. Bell: Class 3: 1st J. McTaggart, 2nd Petty & Crawford: 3rd D. Roach: Class 4: 1st J. & A. Bell, 2nd J. McTaggart, 3rd C. Reynolds: Class 5: 1st J. & A. Bell, 2nd M. Horner, 3rd C. Reynolds, Class 6: 1st J. & A. Bell, 2nd Petty & Crawford, 3rd C. Reynolds: Class 7: 1st Petty & Crawford, 2nd D. Roach, 3rd J. & A. Bell: Class 8: 1st Savage & Tyson, 2nd C. Reynolds, 3rd M. Horner: Class 9: 1st Petty & Crawford, 2nd Mrs. Withey, 3rd Petty & Crawford: Class 10: 1st D. Roach, 2nd Petty & Crawford, 3rd M. Horner: Class 11: 1st Petty & Crawford, 2nd M. Cook, 3rd C. Reynolds: Class 12: 1st D. Roach, 2nd C. Reynolds, 3rd M. Horner: Class 13: 1st Petty & Crawford, 2nd Petty & Crawford, 3rd G. Gurney: Class 14: 1st M. Horner, 2nd M. Horner, 3rd C. Reynolds: Class 15: 1st A. Hitchcock, 2nd J. Hughes, 3rd J. Hughes: Class 16: 1st J. & A. Bell, 2nd Mrs. Withey, 3rd Mrs. Withey: Class 17: 1st A. Talmer, 2nd A. Hitchcock, 3rd A. Hitchcock: Class 18: 1st Mrs. Withey, 2nd C. Bullard, 3rd J. Hughes: Class 19: 1st J. Hughes, 2nd J. Hughes, 3rd J. Hughes: Class 20: 1st J. Hughes, 2nd C. Bullard, 3rd J. Hughes: Class 21: 1st Mr. & Mrs. Upham, 2nd A. Hitchcock, 3rd A. Hitchcock: Class 22: 1st J. Hughes, 2nd Mr. & Mrs. Upham, 3rd J. Tyerman: Class 23: C. Bullard, 2nd N. Walker, 3rd Mr. & Mrs Leney: Class 24: 1st J. Tyerman, 2nd C. Bullard, 3rd F. J. Crawford. Trophy winners were: Best in Show - John & Alice Bell: Best Opposite Sex Jim McTaggart: Best Show Racer - John & Alice Bell: Best Race Bird John & Alice Bell: Best 400 miles Mr. & Mrs Upham: Best Points Over All John & Alice Bell.


Jim McTaggart of Girvan was one of several fanciers who made the 400 mile plus drive down from Scotland to enter birds in the RPRA Southern Region Show and was rewarded by winning ‘Best Opposite Sex’ on the day.  His winner was a handsome blue chequer cock bred from the John and Alice Bell bloodlines. This is his very first year breeding pigeons for over 34 years, since his late dad, George and he raced pigeons very successfully in the old Vale of Girvan Homing Society. Jim’s father was an outstanding pigeon racer; clocking pigeons on the day of liberation from France, flying into Scotland. Jim is totally new to the British Show Racers and only obtained his very first birds in January 2018 at BHW Blackpool Show. Jim went to John & Alice Bell and they helped him to get started. Jim told me, they have kept him right and they have let him travel with them to open shows, also explaining to him what he should do with the birds at penning. He feeds a mixture of beans, peas and tares, that John has advised him to do and has showed him how and what to mix together. Jim’s smart loft is 16ft x 6ft, with a 2ft aviary bay that has three sections. In the few short months that Jim has been showing at open shows he has won 2 x 1st, 2 x 2nd and a 4th prize card, with the highlight being, entering nine birds and winning ‘Best Opposite Sex’ at the RPRA Southern Region Show. John told me, ‘I have been told by many that the RPRA Show win is a great achievement, especially when I have had to take on my mentors and the best show racer fanciers without a shadow of a doubt in Great Britain. May I say that I really thoroughly love the affinity, enjoyment and pleasure with the Show Racers at home. Plus all the lovely people I have met this year who give me advice and encourage me, I feel very humble’.


Jim McTaggart is big in the Canary breeding and showing world and told me, ‘I am a breeder, exhibitor and International judge of Border Canaries. I learned my stockman ship and was brought up with livestock in Bantams, racing pigeons and Border Canaries with my dad, George and my mum Jean. They were the greatest influence with me in my early years and I have showed and judged, plus won at ever top show in the UK & Ireland. I have a good friend who I took as a showing partner when my late mother past away in 2012, then showing under McTaggart & Anderson partnership. We are now the top Scottish Border Canary partnership and I have been made honouree Vice-President of many Border Canary specialist clubs over the years in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. After winning ‘Best in Show’ in Dublin at the Irish Border Fancy Canary Club in 2016, I was then asked to judge the event in 2017. I was then made a Vice-President of the club at their AGM, which was a lovely surprise earlier this year when I was notified’.



At the age of 88, my good friend of over 40 years standing, Ron Lacey, finally decided too stand down as Southern Region Show secretary a couple of years ago and it is now in the very capable hands of Peter Gretton of Brighton. Peter is used to this type of work, being the secretary of his local Federation and serving on the RPRA Southern Region committee for many years, and must say he made marvellous job of the 2018 show. But Ron being Ron and one of the workers, he could not stay away and is at the show still helping out where he can. When I say that Ron is one of the sport’s great workers, it is an understatement; he has spent a life time working for the RPRA and the sport of pigeon racing in general. Peter Gretton and his band of helper work hard every winter and put on one of the best shows I visit! We don’t seem to mention Peter’s band of stewards and workers in the annual write up, whom year in and year out work tirelessly to put this great show on. I don’t know their names, but we always ‘tip our hats’ when we meet up each November and it’s them same ol’ faces every year working so hard on this great event. Well done to you all!


I have attended most the RPRA Southern Region Shows over the past 35 years and it has always been of my favourite winter show events. One of the familiar faces I always see there is that of ‘Jock’ Price, who it seems has been there working away since the year dot! ‘Jock’ and his gang of workers put the show up and then take it down every year, and keep it running super smooth. This lovely Scotsman has been in the sport of pigeon racing for most of his life and started when he was the local pigeon ‘ace’, Bert Cusgrove’s, loft boy in 1953. He soon got his own loft of racing pigeons and flew in the Lochee Club and Dundee Federation, with great success. ‘Jock’ served ten years in the Navy, after which he moved to Littlewick Green in 1975, and joined the Maidenhead pigeon club. It was at this time that he started attending the RPRA Southern Region meetings and began working at the show, with the invitation of then show secretary, Bob Arnold. He is still a member of the Maidenhead club today and is club’s serving President.


One of the pleasures of the winter pigeon shows is meeting up with fanciers and seeing old friends. I was highly delighted to see my good friend, John Tyerman, at the Southern Region Show this time and winning a few prize cards, including a first. John was there with his friend, David Farr and they both looked in good form. The highlight of the 2011 racing season for me was to see my ol’ mate, John Tyerman, win the Central Southern Classic Flying Club’s longest old bird race from Tarbes. Johnny has not enjoyed good health over the last couple of years, which had created a worrying and distressing time his wife Linda and his family in general. I’m happy to say he is back in some good form now! John had spent a life time working for our sport, most of the time at the detriment of his own pigeons and for me and Betty to see him win the CSCFC ‘blue Riband’ race in such great style was the great thing that season! John Tyerman and I have been good friends for many years and we have been through several pigeon campaigns together, including serving on the NFC and L&SECC committees and convoying pigeons together. We roomed together when we travelled for the National Flying Club committee meetings and in 2003 we convoyed the International birds to the waiting train in Belgium, when Brian Sheppard of Trowbridge won the race with his wonderful blue chequer cock, Champion ‘Legend’. When the members of the NFC sent their birds to their first International, no one really knew what an outstanding success it would be and that British racing history was in the making. John and I were in the NFC delegation that went to Belgium to negotiate our Nation taking part in its first International race, then we convoyed the birds to the train in Belgium after marking and on the day after the race, as NFC Press Office, I drove down to Trowbridge to do an article on Britain first ever International winner, Champion ‘Legend’. That Dax International marked the start of a new era in British long distance pigeon racing and John and I were very proud to be a part of it! John was a founder member of the London & South East Classic Club and in the early days of the club, he was one of the main workers in making it a success, including convoying the Classic birds out to France on a lorry. He was a great committee worker for the L&SECC for many years until he moved to Bracklesham Bay and was the Classic’s President for three years. He was on the NFC committee for nine years and is currently President of the British International Championship Club.

I have been associated with the Southern Region Show for many years and have derived great pleasure judging at this great annual event through the years. This great event is one of my favourite one day shows, which is now held at the Hazlemere Community Centre, near High Wycombe. Since the show went there in 1996, the Community Centre has proved to be a first class venue for this major event, having two large halls for the show and charity pigeon auction. My good friend, Ron Lacey, former President of the R.P.R.A. Southern Region, has run the show in recent years and prior to that Val and Tony Viccars were the show secretaries. I have attended the show most years, since it started at Ascot Racecourse over 35 years ago and in recent seasons have booked the judges for the racing classes for Ron. Years ago I used to show and won many firsts with my racing pigeons, which I always considered a good achievement, with the ‘red hot’ competition at the Region show.  After Ascot the show moved briefly into Basingstoke and then went to Slough for ten years, being run by the late great Bob Arnold. I always remember Bob telling me that he had been in pigeons all his life, being taken tenderly into a pigeon loft at the age of ten days old, by his father, in 1920. Bob was a wonderful man and put a lot of hard work into the Southern Region Show through his many years as show secretary. My ol’ mate, Ron Lacey, took over the job of show secretary a good few years ago from Val and Tony who had to step down because of ill health and I must say, Ron has done a brilliant job. Ron told me he was President of the R.P.R.A. Southern Region for 14 years until he had to pack up through ill health. He has been in the sport for 60 years and likes only long distance racing. Now the show is in the very capable hands of Peter Gretton, who made a wonderful start with the 2015 event.


Peter Gretton was born in Small Dole and has been in the pigeon sport many years, with one of his biggest interests being a Football referee for 25 seasons. In the beginning he lived in Upper Beeding where his next door neighbour, the late Bill Lee, had a loft of pigeons, and when Peter got interested he erected his first loft, and Bill gave him some birds. In his novice days, Peter says his birds got very little training and he could not look after them properly as he worked away from home most of the time. He did eventually go in partnership with his new neighbour in Brighton and has now raced on his own for the last seven seasons. His first winner was from Avranches in the Worthing club many years ago and tells me his best position was winning 1st open SMT Combine Messac, but has won the Federation many times through the years. He tells me his family of pigeons are ‘Heinz 57’, with most of them being Staf Van Reet and has been successful racing on the natural system in the longer races from France, which prefers to the sprints. Peter is only a small team man and houses his birds in a back to back loft set up, which is 16ft long, and has now installed the Unikon ETS. He feeds his natural racers depurative on Saturday and Sunday, with Widowhood mixture for the rest of the week and likes his birds sitting 14 day old eggs for the longer channel events. The 2009 season saw Peter have ago at the roundabout system for the first time, with one training toss midweek and he tells me he likes his old birds to race the full programme. The birds are parted for the winter months after the last race and every effort is made to ensure the birds have a good moult. He has 18 pairs of stock birds, which are paired up on 1st February and breeds 60 young birds each season to race. They are trained up to 25 miles and then raced on the natural system to the perch, and are made race the Federation programme. ‘Pedro’ tried the ‘dark’ system once and the following year found he was not getting the performance out of them birds. He is one of the sport’s workers and is secretary of the South Coast Federation and now of the RPRA Southern Region Show.


In conclusion for this week, I would like to say how sorry I was when I heard the bad news that John and Lou McGee are closing down their ‘One Loft Race’ operation in France and moving back to the UK. What a brilliant set up they had out there in France and they produced some fantastic performance in the National races over the years. There wonderful team of pigeons are being sold in the UK over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. Congratulations to John and Alice Bell on their great success at the RPRA Southern Region Show. Happy New Year to all our friends in the pigeon racing and showing world from Betty and me! I can be contacted with any pigeon matters on telephone number: 01372 463480.