National Flying Club

Bulletin from Press Officer Les Parkinson

Well here we are with the second of the new format for the mainstream National flying Club Bulletins that will appear here as often as possible. We will be relying on the majority of material arriving from members of the club and hope to cover many of the officials and the part they play.

I did attempt to get this up and running a few years ago but those I approached were reluctant to send information. However, things are moving on fast and there are supporters of the club who are prepared to send the information we require to let everyone know who is who and what part they are playing in improving the club. We would obviously have liked to start with the Queen but I think an interview is out of the question so we shall start with our President who is a big supporter of the club and always looking to take us forward.

Fred Sharman was born in 1936 in Cambridgeshire. On leaving school he was apprenticed to the motor trade for six years. From the age of 12 until National Service he was an amateur boxer for the Cambridge Club and at the age of 16 began refereeing football (this hobby lasted for 50 years). Fred joined the Suffolk Regiment in December 1957 and after completing basic training went for fourteen weeks to the Physical Training School at Aldershot. He expected to go to Cyprus to join the regiment, but owing to shortages at the Bury St Edmunds depot was required to stay behind as a PTI - training recruits. His disappointment was tempered by competing in boxing, football, fencing, tug-o' war, basketball cricket, hockey and swimming for the depot and making up a gymnastic display team, including Indian club swinging, to visit towns and villages in East Anglia.

Doreen & Fred - two tireless workers for the good of the National.

Earning only £1.70p weekly at today's rate, he carried on his motor mechanic skills to supplement his income (unofficially!). We are talking mainly pre-war cars with side valves etc but these days he never looks under the bonnet. In 1959, just prior to demob, Fred married a Norfolk girl and together they had two children. All married life was centred around market gardening, together with a shop in Cambridge and a stall on Cambridge Market selling home-grown produce and purchases from London. This carried on his father's trade, which began in 1932, and today Fred's son is still on Cambridge Market but nowadays all his stock comes from either the Fens or London.

Fred's interest in pigeons began at the age of eight when he cycled to his uncle's loft several miles away and then his father moved to The Eversdens in 1947. Whilst his father kept fantails and tumblers Fred kept a few of his own pigeons and in 1968 he joined the Cambridge South Road club to begin racing. He was their Chairman within two years and later became President. Fred joined the National Flying Club in 1970 and at this time his basketing days involved a round trip of 260 miles to Reading but the race programme was only Nantes, Pau and Young Birds. During the 70s he became firstly Chairman and then President of The Inter Counties Federation being replaced in the early 90s.

Sadly, Fred lost his Pam in 1989 from cancer and pigeons were his lifesaver. In 1990 Fred was elected onto The National Flying Club Committee, becoming President for the first time in1999, and again in 2004 until the present time. For almost seventeen years Doreen has been his constant companion. This was not their first meeting because they were at school together with both Fred and Doreen's families being in Orwell. That was only about two miles from their present home so there had always been a common bond with friends in the area.

When Sid Barkel became Secretary of the National Doreen offered to help with the dinner arrangements whilst he settled in, and somehow this has become an annual routine, which she enjoys. Fred and Doreen became involved with the National Flying Club Stand at the Shows when David May was getting it organised and continued doing so until this year when Brian Stansfield agreed to relieve them. There is now a new Stand and hopefully it will go from strength to strength under Brian's guidance.

Fred is convinced there is a new future ahead for the National Flying Club with our brand new Transporters, new members on the Committee and hopefully an end to the continual unhelpful letters from members. As the Premier Club we should all be proud to support and nurture our sport after such a difficult time just recently with the curtailing of our races. How past members back down the century would have marvelled at the changes we have experienced.

We also have a piece taken from the club handbook written by committee member John Tyerman re National FC Scottish members:

'I was a member of the NFC some 35 years ago when I flew to a loft at Earlston Police Station in the Scottish Borders. The NFC at that time had a few members in Scotland and our clock station was at Annan, Dumfriesshire, run by Walter Glendenning. Walter scored 172nd Open NFC Nantes (10,000 + birds) and I remember timing two great hens at 7:50am and 8:15am, second morning from NFC Nantes (584 miles) into a NE wind. I was unable to take my clock lock to Annan some 85 miles away due to being sent to deal with a serious accident, so lost my positions, which would have been near the tail end of the result! In 1972 I entered my good blue hen SU67SB5353 in the NFC Pau Grand National (884 miles). This was a hard race with storms and heavy rain en route. The race was open to me for some five and a half days and at lunchtime on day 5 she arrived home minus her rubbers. I telephoned Walter Glendenning who took the wing mark and confirmed my hen's arrival with the Secretary C. W. Millar. The hen had previously flown the channel many times and was in good condition after flying the 884 miles to Earlston Police Station. In those days we had to send our NFC entries by mail to Crewe marking so they spent often a week or more in their baskets. My local paper (Berwickshire News) ran the Pau hen's story in the paper and I even found the old photo and certificate. The blue hen was of the old Kirkpatrick strain and was from pigeons used by the late Joe Newcombe (Newcombe Birds). When I went to Hong Kong in 1973, I gave her back to Joe and she lived to a ripe old age, breeding many good channel pigeons. At the recent Old Comrades show I met up with Walter Gendenning and I know he would once again run a NFC marking and clock station for Scots members. I am keen to push this, as I believe we could get a good number of new members. I know enough people to organise this if we decide to have a Scots Section, which would be section "M".'

Well, no doubt John is delighted that this has now come to fruition and section M will be in operation for this season.

Will all National fliers please note that a full report including photos will appear by the Tuesday morning (or even on occasions Monday) following each race. The National kicks off this weekend from Fougeres and the entry is in excess of 6,600 birds.

If you have any positive information for these bulletins please send it along to be included. This is your chance to send info on the club.