by Drew Callan, Press Officer

April 2014

Last year's car winner Daniel Seedwell being presented with the keys for the car he won. This year the members will compete for a car in each of the first 2 races.

Afternoon all.  As I put these notes together the sun is at its zenith and I am sat on the beach in High Cliff, near Christchurch in The New Forest. I am looking out to sea and wondering how often my own birds pass within sight of here as they hit land on their way racing up country to my lofts in Warwickshire.  The past few days before going on holiday I marvelled at the sunshine hitting the lofts and the birds all buzzing in the way that only sunshine and warm weather can make them. We are now in to April and after a long, wet, poor excuse for a winter we are now at the sharp end of the pigeon year with domestic racing just having started for all clubs and federations and fanciers are starting to reap the rewards of a good moult, a good rest and excellent health. As always there will have been more losers than winners, but patience is the key and it’s a long season ahead and let’s hope that the elusive form comes when we need it most as it makes filling in a pool sheet more rewarding.

At my own lofts the birds have just been paired and will sit out a round of dummies before going on roundabout. This year I am trying very hard not to be bothered by the temptation of club racing and want to focus on channel racing at classic level and after having a strong word with myself 2 years ago I can look around the loft and see a lot of candidates for Tarbes from next year onwards, but as the late, great Billy Troughton, who was a top Irish national flyer, used to say the hardest part of national racing is getting the bird to the race pannier!!! On a personal level I am approaching it in a Buddhist sense with an emphasis on deferred gratification rather than immediate gratification. To help me with this I follow the philosophy and writings of  John Ghent, who writes with such passion about his focus on Barcelona and the single minded approach needed. I am now focused on national racing at the expense of domestic racing so let’s hope it pays off.

Okay, I have blown out the incense sticks and rolled up my meditation mat after drifting off topic for a bit so let’s crack on. All members of the NFC should now be in possession of the 2014 handbook. If you don’t have it and you think you have already paid your fees then get in contact with Sid or your Section delegate and we will get one to you, but there is no immediate panic needed as the racing is still a month away. You cannot help but notice that the handbook this year is different in its size and content. We have always prided ourselves on the high quality handbook that has been provided to all members free of charge, and I know that others have strived to equal it. This year we have started the process that will hopefully see us move away from a paper copy handbook to a completely electronic version over the next 2 or 3 years. We have now entered the era where we can enter our race candidates and then verify our birds online and we can even vote on proposals for the AGM, so it seems logical that we should complete the circle and have the handbook as an interactive electronic document. The immediate benefit of this will be a saving on the cost, as each book costs around £2.50 to post out and we send out 3700 of these. Now that is some saving and what the committee want to do is to feed these savings back in to the prize money and racing costs for the members. We will still have a paper copy available for members who do not have internet access or who are more comfortable with the non -electronic version, but the thinking is that members will have to indicate on the form when they renew their application that they would want a paper copy sent out. If you are happy with accessing the book electronically then you don’t need to indicate anything, in fact you will have probably paid your fees and ordered your rings online anyway. The current handbook is also lacking in the plethora of adverts that were in previous editions. This side of the handbook was always hard work and getting harder each year for the committee members who got involved in gathering the adverts. From this year we have gone back to basics and the handbook will contain what is needed to help the members compete in the race programme and very little else. Hopefully members will get on board quickly with this and we can reap the benefits from next season and continue to do so. I think that going electronic is the way forward and as the leading classic club we should be leading from the front.

Once again this season the members have the opportunity to compete for a range of additional prizes that are so generously supplied by our sponsors. Again this year we are lucky to have the good people from Meriden Animal Health supplying their excellent Orego Stim to the winners of 3rd and 4th in each section for all races. This is a top line product and can be found on the shelf of many top lofts and it wouldn’t be there if it didn’t work. An new addition this year is Premier Stud who have stepped up to the mark and have provided a £200 voucher for each section winner and over all race winner in the third race of the programme from Messac, this can be redeemed for a pigeon from the wide selection of quality stock that are housed and raced by Premier Stud. It seems fitting that the premier racing club in the country is associated with such a premier collection of bloodstock, so some members will be adding to their stock lofts courtesy of Graham, Derek and the team up in Yorkshire. I have no doubt the team at Premier will be delighted to advise and guide you in your selection at the end of the season.

On top of all this we have the chance to compete for a couple of cars this season… yes you read that right folks, we have the great good fortune to be joined again by the wonderful people from Hartwell Car dealership in providing this incredible opportunity. Last season we were able to offer members the opportunity to compete for a car in the Cholet national and Danny Seedwell took us up on this offer and for an additional 50p single bird nomination he walked away with the car and he proved that you didn’t have to win the race to win the car. This year Danny has the chance to do it again in the first race from Carentan, as do all other National Club members and arrangements are the same as last year in terms of a 50p increase in the birdage for this race making it £4.00 per bird. The good news is that if you are unlucky in winning the car nom out of Carentan then you have the chance to do it all again 2 weeks later when the National is at Cholet for the second race of the 2014 programme. Yes, you read correctly folks… 2 races, 2 weeks apart and incredibly 2 cars up for grabs. This is proper ground breaking stuff and it seems fitting that the National is the club that can offer this to its members. This would not be possible without the amazing sponsorship that Hartwell has offered and the hard work of one of its directors- namely Kevin Godfrey- who is himself a successful pigeon fancier and national member. So there you have it folks, some truly great prizes up for grabs and the chance to win two cars, ask yourself this who else could offer these opportunities to its members? So it’s up to you lot to get behind the committee again as you did last year and step up to the mark. Don’t make the mistake of leaving the car winner at home… fill those panniers.

Once again this year we are fortunate to have the food for the races sponsored and provided by Vanrobaeys. This is a company who are at the top of their game and the market leaders in quality pigeon corn. Testament to this is the condition that the birds maintained last year when on the transporter and without fail at each race members commented on condition that their birds showed on return. Make no mistake folks, your bird are in very safe hands when on the transporters and you can be assured that with the continued sponsorship from Vanrobaeys they will be receiving the finest pigeon corn to equip them for the task ahead when the strings are cut. The committee would like to pass on its thanks and gratitude to Vanrobaeys for their ongoing and very generous support.

Just a quick word on marking stations. Please check your handbook to make sure that your local station hasn’t moved or changed its opening times from last year. Also, keep the number for the centre I/C in your mobile in case you run in to trouble en route to the station and have to contact them.  Also please remember that the marking fee is now £2.00 per race and not the £1.00 that it has been for a lot of years previously.  And can I ask you to please get involved and help out the markers, if you can give up 30 minutes of your time then the birds will go through quicker and the line will move quicker as a result, and please remember that all stations work to a deadline that is designed to allow the transporters to be on a ferry on Thursday night and time and tide waits for no man so please don’t be that person who turns up each race marking with 10 minutes to go and then moans about being in a hurry. The truth is folks that if we don’t support our marking stations then we run the risk of losing them and none of us want that to happen.

Speaking of marking stations, it was good to see the new Kent marking station getting a national winner last year and it was just reward for the hard work of Steve Tilley and his team of helpers and grafters. Steve has been in touch to let me know that the marking station has had a change of premises and from 2014 it will be situated at  TheGranville Arms, 83 Maidstone road, Rochester, ME1 1RL, with the I/C remaining as Steve Tilley.

To build on the success of last year the team have secured some fantastic sponsorship for the races this year and the details of the  various  sponsors are as follows and are for 1st birds into Rochester marking station:

Granville Arms, Rochester, £100 in 3 prizes £50 ,£30, £20 on Carentan 24th  May.

A. Wise Roofing, Rochester, £100 as above. Cholet 7th June.

Stimulate Bird Food, Hartlip, £100 as above Messac 21st June.

Fairseat Garden Centre, Fairseat, £100 in vouchers to the value of £50, £20, £20, £10 to be redeemed at the garden centre Tarbes 4th July.

Bretts Trophy Centre, Gillingham, £100 in 3 prizes £50, £30, £20 on Saints 26th July.

D.L Clarke Builders Ltd, Molash, £100 as above Fougeres 6th  September.

Benecare Fostering Ltd, Sevenoaks
, £500 jackpot prize for any member having 1st bird into marking station on 3 out of the 6 races

And now a little info on sponsors who have been so generous .

Granville Arms is a local pub with friendly staff and customers alike and 2 minutes walk down the road to Rochester castle and cathedral. We would like to thank the owner and manager for letting us have our marking station there.

A. Wise Roofing is a local tiling and flat roofing company run by former partner of Steve Tilley, and rumour has it he is the better looking one.
Stimulate Bird Foods is the Kent stockist of Versele Laga corn run by last year’s Messac winners Fagg and Nicholas.

Fairseat Garden Centre nr Wrotham has everything from plants to sheds and is run by Andrew Marney and the beautiful Lisa.

Bretts Trophy Centre is run by Adrian Carr of Maidstone. They supplied trophies for last year’s marking station winners.

D. L. Clarke Builders cover all aspects of building work and is run by Daniel Clarke of Herne Bay club.

Benecare Fostering are a local child care company who provide a safe and protective environment for children and young people aged 8-18 and is run by two local pigeon fanciers.

So it’s up to the fanciers in the Essex and Kent areas to get behind the team and build on last year’s successes, and you have an enviable set of prizes to fly for ladies and gentlemen.

The final thing from me, I will be in Ireland for a few days immediately after the first race from Carentan. This means that the race report will be later in being completed but please contact me by email with your details if you are in the top ten of the provisional result or in the top 2 of your section.

Good luck folks, the racing season has been a long time coming but it will be fleeting. Enjoy your time in the sun if you will have been lucky enough to get on the result, and I wish you all the very best in all the races you enter. You are members of the greatest racing club, you are members of The National Flying Club so do yourself and your birds proud and get competing… fill those panniers and put your trust in the race team that works tirelessly to give you premier racing.

As always I am at .

Drew Callan