R. Pearmain and Son (Wickford, UK) move to the top of the class with 1st national Perpignan with the BICC

The story of the Pearmain partnership is one worth telling and shows what can be achieved with a little planning and a lot of hard work.

Rolling Back the Years

Dickie, the R in the partnership and Steve, his son, have joined a family tradition of racing pigeons that started in the 1930’s in Dagenham. This is when Dickie’s father started racing and the family are proud to have in their possession a certificate from the war office thanking the family for giving pigeons to the war effort. Steve has fond memories of his Uncle Bob who raced pigeons successfully from 1947 until 1980 and these birds actually went back to 2 pigeons that he had smuggled back from India in his back pack at the end of the war.

Dickie raced his pigeons in Dagenham from 1962 until 2002 which was when he moved his family to Wickford. The main focus of the racing in the days before the move was sprint and they were very good in these races. Steve remembers that it was not just his dad that was involved in the team when he was growing up but that his mum was also a major influence. Although sprinting was the focus at the time, a young Steve was very interested in the longer distance races and he still has in his possession articles on some of the greats at the time. These include people like G.Hunt, Don Inglis and John Woodsford, people who were leaders in the early days of top international performances for the UK.

It was in 2002 that Dickie and Steve’s Mum moved to Wickford and this move saw the change in focus from sprint racing to longer distance events. At the same time Steve moved to County Donegal in Ireland with a young family.

Change of Mind Set

The change in racing meant that there had to be a change in mind set which the partnership did find very difficult for a while. It was Nico Volkens that told them to forget about club racing and do not have a clock set for races under 400 miles as this would only lead to disappointment. This has proved to be true as at the shorter distances the Pearmain team could be up to 30 minutes behind the winners.


With the change in discipline a new team was required so Steve Pearmain, along with his friend Callum Edminson started some extensive research. Whilst looking at the ZLU results there appeared to be 2 names that were dominating the Dutch long distance results. These names were Vertleman and son and Nico Volkens. Vertleman was having an entire clearance sale so these bloodlines were easily obtained but there was a problem getting hold of Volkens. Callum then used his contacts on the continent and via Ad Schaerlaeckens a visit was arranged to Volkens. Steve actually thinks that they were the first fanciers from the UK to visit. They were very impressed by the quality of pigeons that they saw in the small set up and decided to purchase youngsters from all of the principle pairs. A return visit was also made the following year to acquire some more youngsters before the parents were sold to Japan. These are the basic lines that the partnership have used in the quest to become top distance fliers. Steve has a team of these birds at stock in Ireland where his wife and mother in law, Mary, look after all aspects, breeding, feeding and ringing while he is away. The order of the day is plenty of food, minerals, baths and fresh air.

Dickie and Steve are of the opinion that crossing middle distance birds with distance is not the way forward. Even sticking with pure distance lines can be fraught with danger at the longer distance races and the losses can be horrendous. They are also of the opinion that having the English Channel to cross after a long days fly can be too much even for good pigeons. It is the great ones that can consistently achieve the last leg.

Mary from Donegal

The Perpignan national winner, now known as Mary from Donegal, was bred in August 2009 in Donegal. She was taken to the race lofts at Wickford and trained lightly along the coast.

From 2011 she was set loose on the racing scene. Three intermediate races and then sent to Pau with the BICC and finished 13th national. Three weeks later it was back to Agen, again with the BICC, where she finished 26th national.

2012 saw the same build up before she was sent to Pau and she came to finish 34th national. With a 3 week rest she was ready to tackle St Vincent and was the partnerships 2nd bird timed, winning 26th national. Two weeks later she made her first visit to Perpignan, sitting the first ever youngster of her life. Dickie told Steve that he thought she was on fire and she proved him right by coming to win 2nd national.

2013 and the build up with the BICC began again. There were two intermediate races and then out to Pau and she did not disappoint, taking 21st national. She was not sent to St Vincent this time but was held back for Perpignan. What a Perpignan it was for her. Mary homed early on the second morning. 6.06am to be precise, for a velocity of 1094 ypm. This was good enough to win 1st national and cement the Pearmain family at the top of their class.


With all of the long distances that Steve has to cover in his working and pigeon fancying life he feels that he has a lot of people to thank.

  • Joann, his wife who stays at home in Ireland whilst he travels away for work
  • His mother in law Mary, for helping Joann with the birds
  • Mum for the great support she gives to his dad Dickie
  • Callum Edminson
  • Alan Parker
  • Pat and Tony Mahoney
  • Aaron Murtagh and all of the Armagh boys in Ireland
  • Robert and John Cassidy from Derry

Without the help of all of these, the success that R. Pearmain and son have achieved would not have been possible.