by Drew Callan, Press Officer

2014 Presentation

Trevor Hazell, Tarbes Blue Riband winner.

I start this article off the back of three nights of hard frost with the thermostat in my car showing minus 5 when I was leaving for work. The birds seem to relish these conditions and a drop in temperature tends to see them tighten up in feather and start shining in their new set of feathers.  It is that time of year again when I see the birds at either end of the day in the dark with a head torch and all the while that we have no snow and ice it’s not too much of a hardship but when I forget to take out the drinkers and I get caught out with a cold snap that freezes the drinkers morning become less fun. I know of some fanciers who will have paired up or will be doing so over the next few weeks. Good luck to them and I hope they have  a good lay out and hatch. I am not looking to pair up any time before early February and that’s one of the aspects of our sport, it’s very much a personal choice as you are the management committee and you make the decisions for your own loft.

Just a few bits of housekeeping whilst I remember. Firstly, with regards to the handbook, this time last year the committee was looking at the future of the handbook and specifically the content and access. We realised that  considerable savings could be made by moving away from the glossy, high quality product that we had been sending out to the membership, especially in the cost of postage. To achieve this we looked at promoting the handbook as an electronic document that could be downloaded from our website and quite a few members had taken advantage of this. At the October meeting it was apparent that a quite a few of the membership were concerned about the rapid transition we were planning and so we have listened to the members and for the 2015 season we will continue to send out a handbook to all members with all the information needed to allow them to race next season.

Secondly, the Blue Riband race from Tarbes has been moved from its traditional and long standing place in the race calendar. When it would have been pencilled in to be on the weekend nearest the longest day to allow the birds to make the most of the daylight as they travelled home, it is now moved to the last slot in the programme and has been swapped with Saintes. In the two years I have been Press Officer I have never witnessed a decision from the committee that has polarised fanciers so much. Of the many phone calls and conversations I have had over this the majority have been on the side of keeping the race where it has been. There is some confusion as to why the race was moved and some fanciers have pointed out that there is only 23 minutes difference in the available daylight so there shouldn’t really be too much of a difference in terms of giving further flying birds a real punt at doing something magical on the winning day. Some fanciers are concerned that we might not get to see repeats of the feats achieved by the likes of Chris Gordon, the Shackletons, the Winters, the Bush brothers , Alwyn Hill, and not forgetting the performance out of Tarbes this year by the Fussey loft  tucked away up in Bridlington. There was also concern about holding the condition of the birds for an additional 3 weeks and wrapped up in this was conversations with several dyed in the wool long distance lofts who revolve their lofts around the Tarbes race and who regularly fill the clock. This included talk of the rhythm of the loft amongst others, and an acceptance that it wasn’t just a case of pairing up a bit later to hold the wing. We will have to suck it and see with this one folks, I am sure the lofts looking at sending a team will already have started the planning, and I hope to see your names on the result.

Finally, we have a new trophy to fly for from this coming season onwards. Mark Gilbert has very kindly donated a top quality trophy to be presented to the bird with the highest winning velocity over the first 5 old bird races including Tarbes. To win it the bird needs to be on the result sheet in each of the 5 races, a mammoth task and not one for the fainthearted but what a trophy to have your name on. So from next year members will have something else to aim for and to try and win. Good luck, only the best will be left standing at the end of the programme to go forward for this trophy.

The last weekend in November saw the bold and the brave gather in God’s own country for the annual prize presentation evening. This year members descended on Harrogate and stayed in the comfort of The Majestic Hotel, perched high above the town overlooking the splendour and elegance of the Spa town. The weather was again kind to us and it stayed dry and mild over the weekend. I am not sure whether it was a case of God shining on the righteous or the devil looking after his own!! This year I opted to leave the kilt at home on the advice of our chairman as he felt that particular corner of Yorkshire wasn’t the safest for a man in a skirt, and also our president was worried that people might have mistaken me for Kelly Malone after they had had a drink or two. So in the end I bowed to their collective age and wisdom and to be honest I don’t think my enjoyment was hampered by it, although I can’t speak for others.

Once again, the array of silverware on display was breathtaking and had been beautifully prepared and laid out by Jolliffes, who do a magnificent job each year.  The main guests of honour were Mr and Mrs Farrow who are in charge of The Royal Lofts and Mr Chris Sutton, who had a rightful place at the top table as recognition of the sterling job he does photographing the various national winners throughout the year. They were joined on the top table by a variety of committee members and post holders and their wives. Before the presentation got underway there were several speeches and during these there was a real spark in the air and no one was left in any doubt of the passion felt for the sport and what it meant to be a competitor in The National Flying Club.  The last time I saw grown men this close to tears was on my wedding night, but that’s a story for another time, perhaps next year at the presentation in Telford.

Right folks, that is all from me for now. I would just like to thank the people on my table for their company on the night. They were all a pleasure to be with and made for a very enjoyable few hours. I have lined up a few loft visits over the winter so I will report back on those.

As always, or 01926 817796

Drew Callan


The illustrious Andy Parsons winner of the coveted Oliver Dix and Langstone Gold Cup.

O’Hare and Woodward collecting the coveted Lancashire Rose Trophy - a fine swansong.

Gerry Clements collecting Section L Bird of The Year Trophy. My dad taught him all he knows!

Max Hawthorn, Section I, who had a phenomenal race from Tarbes.

John and Dave Staddon who collected another fine haul of trophies.

Dave Fussey, who recorded the furthest flying Tarbes bird in race time - 751 miles 1693 yards.

Mr and Mrs Waterhouse, winners of the Saintes National.

Mike Whitcombe, Young Bird national winner.

The highly successful Ron and Nigel Dennett, winners of a very fast Carentan National.


G and S Treharne, flying the Welsh flag with top section J positions.

Rob Rome collecting The T Clarke Memorial Averages Trophy

Eddie Froggett still completing at the top after 60 years

Fagg and Nicholas

Cosmin Talas, a rapidly rising star in the NFC.

The Chambers family a well kept Midlands distance secret

3 section winners in the Old Bird National - Paul Naum, Geoff Kirkland and Driver, Dawson and Dawson.

Andy smith, a top national performer and Tarbes Section winner in Section H.

Mark Gilbert reaping the rewards of his hard work

Mr and Mrs Titcombe, Cholet National winners.

Andy Mabin

The man who brought it all together NFC Secretary Mr Sid Barkel

The brains behind the brawn, the wives of the Committee members.