Steve and Denise Wiggins (Basingstoke, UK) win the National Flying Club race from Cholet

Steve and Denise Wiggins from Basingstoke expected a five, to five and half hour fly for the birds to cover the 290 miles to their loft, so when their widowhood cock appeared from nowhere and flew straight into the loft at four hours forty four minutes they knew they had a good one.

Steve & Denise Wiggins (All photos courtesy of Chris Sutton)

They knew he would be a good one as he had shown previous form just three weeks ago by winning 7th Open Messac with the CSCFC, but they did not expect to win outright.It was not until four thirty, when a friend called say they were at the top off the leaderboard, that they realised just how good their time was and a tense couple of hours followed, with all the family repeatedly checking the website to watch the northern times coming up one by one, just short of their velocity. They were over the moon when they received confirmation that they head provisionally won the Premier Distance Club in Great Britain, especially because their three year old granddaughter had asked Grandad Steve to “win the big race” for her birthday, which was on that very same day.

Wiggo's Lacey

As a boy, Steve and his brother lived in Putney and caught stray pigeons which were housed in tea chests. Their father, seeing the keen interest his boys had shown in the pigeons, decided to buy them a small garden loft with which to race their birds, but as their teenage years advanced, their father “Wiggo” gradually took over as they went on to other things. One such distraction was Denise, who met Steve at school aged 13 and they have been together ever since, being married for the last 46 years. When they were first married, they lived Carshalton, London and as they had a decent sized garden, Steve asked Denise if she would mind if he put up a pigeon loft. “Not at all” was her reply and from then on, they both became involved in the pigeon sport together, and Steve said that he could not do it with out her.

The winner's wing

They soon put together a winning team of birds, raced on the widowhood system and one ambition his father held was for them to win the Fulham Open which was a huge race at the time. Steve entered his cocks and won first and second that day, making his Dad really happy for them to have achieved the win. Subsequently his Dad, known locally as to his friends “Wiggo”, passed away over 20 years ago, which is when Steve lost interest in the birds and consequently he and Denise moved to Spain for a few years. But the pigeon bug had bitten him hard and Steve began to help one of the locals in Spain to race his birds whilst all the time keeping a keen interest in the UK Pigeon Journals. Eventually they returned to the UK and moved to Basingstoke to be near their sons, which was just over five years ago, and once their homemaking was complete, a new twenty four foot loft was constructed which is when the search for quality bloodlines began.

The lofts

Steve had decided the De Raul Sablon pigeons were putting up good performances and would also make a good cross for most other middle distance families, so he acquired a few from Mick McMurchie in Fife, who also had Peter Veenstra “Mr Blue” lines which soon began winning for them in their local club and federation. But their heart was in channel racing, holding the Classics and National racing as their main goals in Basingstoke, with the first major win being with the Central Southern Classic FC in 2018 from Bergerac and now, just one year later, adding a first open National Flying Club.

They have bought quality stock birds with channel racing in mind, going to Geoff Kirkland and Mark Gilbert for particular lines. Indeed, they had purchased a double granddaughter of “Euro Diamond” from Mark which unfortunately escaped over Dee’s head one blustery evening at the loft. But once he recounted the loss to Mark, thinking it may get reported to him via the ring number, he replaced the pigeon free of charge with one exactly the same way bred, which Steve said illustrates the generous nature of the man.

There is no doubt going to be further National and Classic success achieved by this very affable husband and wife partnership, and considering the general rule is that it takes five years to build a team to race the channel, in five years they have won two already, so I am sure many more will follow.

Wiggo's Lacey in his nestbox