by Drew Callan, Press Officer

National Notes - February 21st 2013

Good afternoon folks, I hope all is well with you and there are lots of eggshells on the loft floor. Can I start by wishing our chairman Mick McGrey belated birthday greetings for his birthday during the week. I am sat here putting together these notes looking out on a wet, windy Sunday afternoon and to top it all my Rugby team, Ireland, are struggling to make progress against England on their home turf. Anyway it could be worse I suppose, I could be a Chelsea supporter!

Last time round I filled you in on how the AGM went and the outcome of the propositions and that generated a few phone calls that were all positive and amongst them were 6 calls from fanciers who were coming back to the National because we had chosen to maintain the status quo with regards to allowing members to nominate local clock stations, so let’s hope it continues. I also had a very interesting phone call from a gentleman in section L who talked about the concerns being raised by members about the 29 bird quota per basket and how in his experience it was deterring members from sending, especially to the last 2 races. He felt that we should be spreading the birds around a bit more and that we should be looking at something around the 24 bird mark. I can see where he is coming from and this is a discussion I have had before with fanciers, with one suggestion I have heard being that we should have a tapered birdage quota that has a maximum of 24 per crate for the first  3 races and then slide the quota down as we get towards Saintes and Tarbes. What I will say is that the welfare of the birds is always the principal concern of the committee and convoyers and if it was felt that the current quota affected the conditions that the birds travelled in then they would be changed immediately. Also, I know that 29 seems like a lot but I think some members would be surprised at how spacious the crates actually are and there is adequate room for that number. Having grown up around livestock I know from experience that when transporting sheep and cattle my father was always of the opinion that they travelled in greater comfort when the trailer was full as they were less prone to being buffeted about during the journey, and perhaps pigeons are no different. Anyway if it’s something that members feel strongly about then there is always the option of putting a proposal in to our Chairman in the Autumn.

Before I go on I should probably get round to introducing myself to you as I overlooked this the last time round. My name is Drew Callan and I fly in partnership my my 9 year old son Noah, although I will be amending it soon as my 3 year old daughter Erin has laid claim to the 3 grizzles in race team. I am originally from Derry in Northern Ireland and have been an active flyer in England since 2001, having moved here to further my teaching career. I originally lived in Northampton before moving to Warwickshire in 2004 to a little village 6 miles south of Coventry. Having been brought up flying pigeons in to Ireland, channel racing was in my blood and was the only thing that interested me so joining the National Flying Club was a natural step. I cut my national teeth in Northampton surrounded by the likes of Trevor Bull and Richard Howey, who are dyed in the wool national men who have accidentally taught me a lot despite my best efforts to ignore their advice. I think I must have learnt something as I have picked up a few national tickets along the way and the Irish birds brought with me have adapted well to flying the channel into England… mind you as my mate says, it’s child’s play to them after having had to fly the two-channel route into Ireland. I have been on the National committee for the past 18 months having been co-opted on because they were in serious need of eye candy so luckily they got me and Dave Staddon at the same time… and we don’t even charge!

Since the AGM we have seen some very positive developments which I want to tell you about. Firstly, we have seen a new marking station being organised for fanciers in Kent. This has come about as a result of committee members working closely with like minded fanciers in the area to find a suitable location and more importantly, people to run it. In particular I know that Dave Staddon and John Edwards have got the bit between their teeth and have worked with Steve Tilley to get this off the ground. The new marking station will initially feed into an existing marking station which is not, I know, how some fanciers would want it but from small acorns and all that… so we will see how this one goes but it is important to note that the committee have not ruled out the possibility of the transporter picking up from there down the line if the support is there and it continues to flourish. So it’s up to the fanciers now to show their support and come and compete with the best. The new marking station is located at Wainscott WMC, Wainscott Road, Wainscott, Nr Rochester, ME2 4LB. Looking at it on a map it seems that this new station could maybe even persuade some of the Essex boys who are tucked down in that corner to start sending again. To be honest it would be nice to see a good solid send from that area so let’s get behind Steve and the other boys who are giving up their time. It’s like I said before, if the committee can help then they will and its always good to talk.

Another piece of very good news is the announcement that Hartwells have very generously offered a car for members to compete for in the Cholet race. This has come about due to the hard work and persistence of a few members but in particular Eamon Kelly who contacted a fellow fancier Kevin Godfrey who works within Hartwells. Kevin is a top fancier in his own right and is a past BICC national winner. He has very little time for the pigeons due to the high demands of his role and so has relied very much on the help of his family in the day-to-day running of the lofts. He is not a big team man nor is he in a good location being tucked away in a corner of the Cotswolds but he has always managed to more than hold his own in the various feds that he has flown in and he has given some of the big team top dogs sleepless nights and left them scratching their heads. The car sponsorship is a bit of history repeating itself and in the past it has been the highlight of the season for many fanciers and the prize that they went after. I have no doubt that thanks to Kevin and Hartwells it will once again be a focal point for the members and give them the incentive to send their best. Now for the logistics of it… the committee discussed various options of nominations and what they would cost and in the end it was decided that for the Cholet race the birdage would be increased by 50 pence and that all members who entered would then get the opportunity to nominate one bird only at no additional cost. So in other words each member who sends to Cholet will nominate one bird… so it’s a more level playing field for all as there is only one car nomination per loft. I have not called it a free nomination because it clearly isn’t as for this race only we have increased the birdage slightly. I know some members might be complaining about the additional costs but if you are the member winning the car then it’s not a bad return on your 50 pence investment.

Right that’s it from me for now. Can I just remind members that it is NFC rings only for the young Bird national so get your rings ordered whilst Sid still has some left.

As always my number is 01926 817796 or email:


Drew Callan