British International Championship Club: prize presentation

The weekend of 10th -12th February saw the annual get together of the members of the British International Championship Club to honour the winners of the club’s National and International races for the 2011 season.

This was a particularly successful one for members of  the only truly International minded organisation within the sport of pigeon racing in the UK, as three of our members actually took top honours in International races competing against the cream of Continental Europe. To paraphrase Colin Welland’s immortal words on accepting an Oscar “The Brits are coming” – well I think I can say with some confidence that “the Brits have arrived and mean to stay!!” Congratulations therefore must go to our three successful members namely D.Bullen & Son winners of 1st Pau International. Mark Gilbert 1st Hens International plus 1st Yearling International Bordeaux and finally, Geoff and Catherine Cooper whose widowhood cock beat a field of 22,029 birds to record 1st International Bordeaux - remarkable pigeon flying by some of the top fanciers in both the UK and Europe.

The venue for the weekend was once again the Queen’s Hotel in Bournemouth and soon after lunch on the Friday the members began to drift in from all corners of the UK. By tea time the bar was full to capacity with fanciers and friends settling down to have a chat over a couple of drinks. As I mentioned in my earlier notes, the atmosphere is one of a large extended family getting together after a long period of separation. It is really exceptional and I’m sure I reflect each members’ feelings when I say that it is definitely one of the highlights of the social calendar. Many fancier’s make a complete weekend of it and stay from Friday to Sunday or Monday as the hotel is ideally situated close to the beaches and not too far from the main shopping centre and the lovely gardens. So gentlemen, there is now no need and definitely no excuse for leaving your long suffering wives at home – take them to Bournemouth and you can both enjoy a pleasant mid winter break together before the hurly burly of the breeding and racing seasons begin.

This season saw a record number of members present at the presentation evening with 140 members and guests sitting down to a delicious five course meal. The staff at the Queen’s are extremely efficient and accommodating and following the meal the presentation was soon underway with speeches kept to an absolute minimum. John Tyerman the new club President did an excellent job in highlighting the terrific performances of members during the season and also made special mention of the many hard workers without whose efforts the club would be unable to function. John also thanked retiring president Mick Bunney for all his valuable input into the club over many years. Pam Gladwin also received praise for her hard work in promoting the club through her articles as club press officer for the past few seasons.

It was then on to the presentation of the prizes with the three aforementioned International winners being called up first to receive their well deserved accolades. Yet another outstanding performance was achieved by a bird flying the 868 miles from Barcelona to the Yorkshire loft of Mick and son Robert McGrevy which won them the newly presented Jim Emerton Trophy. Watch this space for future loft reports featuring the above lofts.

You can find a full list of all race winners for the 2011 season by clicking here. This list also includes the section winners in each race plus where appropriate the hens, yearlings and winners of the old hens races.

As can be seen from the list of trophy winners, the Wingham, Kent partnership of F. Knowles & Son enjoyed an excellent season’s racing, winning no less than FIVE trophies including The Europa Cup for best Average all International races. Unfortunately Simon Knowles was unable to attend so there is no photograph of this top class long distance fancier to accompany this report.

Yet another Kent fancier, none other than Alan Turner, walked away with a couple of trophies for Best Average Pau and Perpignan Internationals and 2Bird Average Perpignan. Mike Mitchell ably assisted by wife Cynthia also achieved great success once again in 2011 winning the Agen/Tarbes race with the only bird on the day into the UK plus trophies for 2 Bird Average Agen / Tarbes and the Wright Cup for best Average Pau/Agen.

The Brian Long Memorial Trophy awarded to the highest placed British Pigeon in an International race was won jointly by The Bullen Family for 1st Pau International and Geoff and Catherine Cooper for 1st Bordeaux International.

Following the presentation of prizes it was an opportunity for the young [and not so young] to get up onto the dance floor. I don’t think I have ever seen so many enthusiastic dancers at a pigeon function. It must be something in the Bournemouth air.

My thanks go to Anthony Williams and Catherine Cooper for some of the photos that accompany this article as I’m certainly no David Bailey.

See you all next year and let’s hope it’s as successful as the 2011 season.