National Flying Club

Report by Les J. Parkinson & Cameron Stansfield of

Following a one-day holdover the NFC Bordeaux convoy of 2,799 birds were liberated at 5.45am on Sunday into a light west wind. Another successful race unfolded with good birds being recorded in most parts of the country, with some making it into Lancashire on the night and one also got up into Grimsby. Remarkably, the first two Open positions were won by pigeons which were once strays!

Les Jones

Les Jones 1st Open winner

The honour of 1st Section E, 1st Open Grand National went to Les Jones of Hitchin who said it felt fantastic to have won. His winning pigeon came in as a stray youngster last July. With Les’ youngsters being natural it was evident that this was a darkness young bird and he says it looked magnificent. Anyway, it had been at his loft for no more than ten minutes before he basketed it up and took it to work to toss it. It returned to his loft so he reported it and it belonged to Paul Russell of Brentwood. It was duly collected but three weeks later it turned up in Les’ garden once more. Paul suggested Les keep it but Les, not really into adopting strays, said he would toss it and see how things went. It kept coming back so he transferred it and raced it through the young bird programme. It was always about mid-division, never being up front in these races. This year he paired him up and gave his youngsters away to a clubmate. Again he was mid division in is races this season, then he was sent to a MNFC race, returning with two tail feathers. Les was actually preparing another pigeon for Bordeaux and it was only at the last minute that he decided to send this cock too. He has not seen his main entry as yet! Having won the National Les contacted the breeder and was able to find out that the bird is a Camphuis Janssen whose dam won three firsts as a youngster. On winning the National with a one-time stray, Les said ‘And to think of all the money I’ve spent on pigeons!’ He added that the bird was in fantastic condition when he clocked him but that he actually missed his arrival as he had gone to the house for a drink. Les said that he’s normally a very chatty person but as news of his success was sinking in on Sunday he hardly said a word to anyone. He couldn’t believe it when he started getting calls from people saying ‘You’re going to win the National’ and says the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since. Congratulations Les on winning the number one race on the calendar.

Dickie Nash

Dickie Nash section winner

1st Section A is won by Dickie Nash of Bognor Regis who has been racing pigeons for some 50 years going back to when he flew successfully with his late father in the Ashford club in West London. Dickie moved to the South Coast a few years ago and joined the local Bognor & Chichester club. He has won many club, fed and National positions including the BBC YB event and BICC Marseilles. In this Bordeaux race he clocked his good 3y blue chequer hen at 14.59 to win 1st Section B, 2nd open. He has now named her Emma Mary after his granddaughter. She was sent feeding 5-day-old youngsters and had previously won a number of positions including 51st Open Vains with the Solent Fed against over 5,000 birds. She came to Dickie as a stray and was duly transferred by Mr Frank Fournier of Bridport. The breeding is believed to be the late Eric Cannon’s lines via Ron Dodd of Cranley in Surrey. Dickie commented that it just goes to show that strays aren’t all bad. This year she had one race from the north, then took 12 hours from St Nazaire, after which she was rested, so Bordeaux was her third race of the year. Dickie added that this was the first time he has ever had her right. Dickie is a willing worker and assists at the NFC Melling marking station and at the NFC clock station so it is pleasing to see him do so well in this prestigious NFC race. He finished out conversation by saying he would like to congratulate Les Jones on winning the race.

Bomber Mellis

1st Section B was won by Bomber Mellis of Southsea who clocked a blue pied widowhood cock cock of Staf Van Reet x Burger lines. The SVRs originated from Ian Stafford and the Burgers from Roy Boden of Derby. His winner has had five previous races this season and has never let Bomber down, always being just off the pace. However, he was the least fancied of Bomber’s four entries, in fact he was a late substitute for a hen who had become eggy. He was the first of three arrivals on the day to the loft and looked perfect when he was clocked. He actually came right out of the north so Bomber suspects he crossed somewhere near Gosport. Even though he came from the wrong direction, he arrived like a rocket. Bomber said it was a great thrill when he saw him and then added that whether racing from 50 or 500 miles he always gets a thrill when he sees a pigeon arrive, even if it is late. Now 65 years of age, he says he has more enthusiasm than ever, adding that the older you get the more stupid you get as when you clock you think you have won every race. Feed here is an ounce in a morning and half an ounce in the evening, with malting barley in front of the birds at all times, and they also have two peanuts a day each throughout the season. Aviform is added to the water every second day and TCP once a fortnight. This loft was 2nd Open CSCFC Pau last year and Bomber’s main ambition is to win the Pau National.

Perrott Marion

1st Section C once again goes to Mike Staddon of Crewkerne. Mike took the rubber off a chequer hen that is a very good pigeon with the following performances: 1st sec Bordeaux 2006. 15th sec 339th open NFC Young bird National. 3rd club 32nd Combine Saintes. 11th section 70th open Nantes CSCFC. 16th sec Nantes National. 1st open Towers Open race winning £1,000. 1st Littlehampton. 1st sec 74th open NFC Dax. Dam is a full sister to “Perrott Nadia” 1st sec 1st open NFC Guernsey. Her sire was bred by Ron Williamson and has flown Melton Mowbray on the north road and Messac with the BBC on the south route in 2006. She was prepared and sent to Bordeaux sitting 6 days. Mike was telling me that once again the pigeons returned in excellent condition and that he sent six, having four on the day and the other two next morning. Mike went on to say that this win makes it 23 x 1sts Section C in the National Flying club, a record that he is proud of.  

Ringo Parkhouse

1st Section D for around about the 10th or 11th time was won by Brian Parkhouse of Cullompton who timed ‘81’, who he described as a ‘Once in a lifetime pigeon – the best I shall ever have.’ The pigeon in question is a Gerard Schlepphorst Jannsen cock who has scored from all over the place winning a huge amount of money in the process, his successes coming at club level right through to national level. Brian says this pigeon loves his home and would race in any condition but for this race he was given his hen fpur days before basketing. He added that the success was 95% down to the pigeon itself but for the record the feed here is a high carbohydrate mix, given once a day in the evening. Brian has twenty widowhood cocks and also races a few birds on roundabout. He tries all manner of things to motivate them. He started with pigeons in 1995 and is self-taught. His successes include winning a car and winning 1st and 2nd Open BBC. Brian says ‘81’ has actually been unlucky in that every time he has been sent to the National he has not had a favourable wind. He returned from this race in excellent condition and has now been retired. Brian had actually decided beforehand that this was to be ‘81’s’ final race so he was relieved to see him. He said, ‘It felt wonderful when he dropped. I’m not sentimental but I had a little tear in my eye.’

Tony Waite

Tony Waite of Whitchurch wins 1st Section F once again, this time with a 5y widowhood cock called Hakon. He has flown Pau three times and has won 10th Section, 172nd Open NFC Saintes and 24th Section, 225th Open NFC Tarbes. His sire is Bassi and his dam is a daughter of Crack Perpignan, these of course being the lines of the late Jim Biss. Hakon is a half-brother to Espanda, winner of 1st Section, 2nd Open San Sebastian for Tony. To give you some measure of how good these birds are, Tony sent 30 to this race and had 22 on the day, clocking 19. The winner was flown on basic widowhood and this season has had a few inland races and one Channel race – Messac with the BBC. Tony does not train at all after the first race but his birds do exercise very well around the loft. He cut down to 40 pairs of racers at the start of this season and these are all on widowhood. He says he has tried a few hens in the past but basically they can’t beat his cocks. Like so many other fanciers, Tony’s ambition is to win the Pau National.

Sid and Val Miles win Section G with a 3y pencil blue hen who has previously won 3rd club, 21st combine Marmande, 485 miles. This season she was raced up to Hexham on the north, coming ok, then flew Littlehampton on the south. In the week before Bordeaux she had three 50-mile tosses and an open loft. She is raced natural and was sent sitting 13 days at the time of basketing. She is bred through a family they have developed over many years. Her sire is a blue cock who has won on the north and south this year and was 2nd Marmande last year, and her dam is a cheq stock hen out of their Marmande Combine winner of 2002, known as Little Mandy, who also won Nantes and scored from Pau. Little Mandy is a g.dtr of Little Darling, Ashgrove King and George Burgess’ Pau National winner. Sid said basically there family are good honest pigeons which were initially formed on Barkers from Roy Welch of Bristol back in the sixties; there is also some Mike Young Spangle blood in the mix. He also said they struggle to compete at times with the widowhood fliers so the harder the race the better. They love 500-mile races and want as many hours on the wing as possible. Feed is beans and peas from the farm added to a mix and fed morning and afternoon for a degree of control. They keep 38 pairs including 6 pairs of stock and their ambition is to win the Pau National. In 2004 they sent three and took 14th, 17th and 32nd Open. Sid actually won the Pau National in 1987 when flying as Miles & Dix.

Trevor Harris

What a day for the partnership of George, Trevor & Rita Harris of Polstead who won 1st Section H. Trevor has always said he would wina Section in the NFC but to win the Section and come 25th Open in the Grand National of all raceswas above all expectations. This winner is bred off his 2004 Nantes Section winner but he did not pool this Louella Jan Arden hen as it was not coming as well as some of the others. He kept checking the NFC web site to see if they had won the Section and when it was confirmed he would have opened a bottle ofbubbly but as he had to work nights it was put on hold. Trevor is another in the long line of members who have said that their pigeons came back in excellent condition. Also Trevor, as a committee member of the NFC, would like to thank the race advisers and the convoyer for providing such a good race. The NFC is the Number 1 club in the UKand Trevor would like to see more members racing on the East Coast. The partnership race in a very strong club, the Mid Suffolk South Road RPC based in Stowmarket Suffolk, which his home to many section, national & International winners. Trevor also said that he is looking forward to receiving the Travipharma products for winning the section as they use them all the time. He is also looking forward to getting a photo taken of the winner by Richard Howey.

D.Nesbitt & Ssons, on the left is Dougie Nesbitt holding there 5th section 19th open winner from Sennen Cove, In the middle is Mark Nesbitt holding there 1st section 14th open winner from Bordeaux and on the right is close friend and helper Chrisie Batt.

Nesbitt lofts

Wing of Doug Nesbitts 1st section winner

1st Section I was won by Dougie Nesbit & Son of Rugeley, a town that is a real hotbed of National fliers. Dougie and son Mark timed their 3y widowhood cock, which is pooled to £10 Section and Open, at 6.37pm. The sire is from direct Robert Venus Supercracks and bred a fed topper two years ago out of Picauville whilst the dam, who is from the Blue Danial Haelterman lines via Frank Tasker, has scored herself and bred other winners. Their Section winner was also timed from the Sennen Cove National. Dougie told me that on arrival from Bordeaux he looked brilliant, in fact he clapped round three times before landing and then proceeded to spin around. He added that you’d never have thought he’d been and that he could have been sent back so well was he on Monday morning. The Nesbitts, who are assisted by silent partner Chris Batt, have enjoyed a terrific season with the NFC. Their first bird positions in the races so far are: 11th Section 140th Open St Malo; 4th Section, 91st Open St Nazaire; 5th Section, 19th Open Sennen Cove, and now 1st Section, 14th Open Bordeaux. They have also won 1st Section Yearlings in the MNFC from Yelverton. In 2002 they won the MNFC Channel Averages and in the seasons 2001 and 2002 they won a total of £17,000! I asked Dougie if he still had any of this money to which he replied: ‘Oh no, it’s gone with Lebby (Brian Leadbeater) down the pub!’ He added that it felt brilliant when his cock arrived and that he had tears in his eyes. The Nesbitts start the season with 40 widowhood cocks and also try around 8 hens, but they say the cocks usually have the edge. Dougie originates from South Wales and comes from a mining family that moved to Rugeley when he was 11 years of age. He is now retired. The aim now for their Section topper is Tarbes next year.

Mr & Mrs Geoff Kirklands lofts

1st Section J goes to one of the most prominent names in the sport, Mr & Mrs Geoff Kirkland of Longsdon, Stoke-on-Trent. Geoff and Barbara have a real nice place on Denford road that is called The Outlook and you can see why when you visit them. Their latest National performer is a little 2y blue cock that they race on the widowhood system and he comes form the old Supercrack lines that have done so well for them over the years. Geoff told me that the pigeon was in such good condition he could have gone on for quite a few more miles without any problem and a good 600ml plus race wouldn’t have hurt him which means he is already giving thought to where he can go to in future years. For this race he had a three-week break because of the 7-day restrictions and difficulty finding the right race to send him to. They are pleased with the way the season their has gone under trying circumstances.

1st section K for Mr & Mrs Braithwaite

We now come to the winner of 1st Section K, which is a fabulous 7y hen racing to the loft of Roly Braithwaite up in Grimsby. This truly wonderful hen actually arrived on the day, some time between 9.40 and 10.10pm, which means she was after the hours of darkness came into play at 9.30. Roly had had to take his Midlands National clock in and was away from his loft for half an hour. I asked him what his reaction was when he returned home and went down the garden in the fading light to find his hen. ‘Oh hell’, I thought, ‘What am I going to do with you?’ She must have the heart of a lion this hen as last year in a hard race she won 1st Section Midland National Bergerac and two years ago she dropped with her half-sister from Bergerac on the day, having covered 602 miles. She has also scored on a third occasion from Bergerac. Before Bordeaux, Roly had said to his wife that this would be her last trip so she has now been retired. Her sire is a Van Der Wegan which originated from Ponderosa and her dam is a mixture of Jan Aarden through a young chap who’d had them from a loft in Wales, Van Wanroy from Ponderosa and Kuyper from Louella. She has always been flown natural to an open loft. This year she wasn’t started until after the restrictions on Channel racing were lifted. She had two tosses, then flew Maidstone, Eastbourne and Alencon, after which she was left alone, being basketed for Bordeaux sitting 8 days. She has also scored from the distance feeding a baby and once when her cock was lost for a few days but returned just before basketing. Rory says his natural birds are up and down all the time and he feeds a good heavy mix containing beans. He describes his great hen as powder blue, cobby and medium to small and says that whenever she returns from a long race she is always in the same condition, never being distressed at all. Roly hardly slept at all on Sunday night and when he went to the loft at 4.30 on Monday morning his hen was back sitting her eggs tight.

1st Section L was won by one of Lancashire’s great lofts, Barber & Hilson of Bury. When I rang George I asked him how it felt to have timed over 600 miles on the day and he said, ‘I’m still buzzing. I saw her coming from 700 yards out and I said to Bob Helens, who was waiting with me, “Bob, here’s a 600 miler coming!” She was in fabulous condition and would have gone on.’ She was sent on a five-day old youngster at basketing, the idea being to get her off soft food for fear of it going sour in the crop. Initially this season she was flown on roundabout, then was paired and sat 10 days before being split again. This therefore was her first baby of the year. She was their first bird this year from St Nazaire, their first bird from Tarbes last year, and two years ago she was clocked on the day from Niort. Both of her parents were gifts from Gordon Rigg (who won the Sennen Cove National earlier this season and who clocked three in 6 minutes in this Bordeaux race) and the breeding is Dusardyn. This pair has also bred 1st Section Young Bird National. George is one of the most enthusiastic fanciers I’ve met. Though a working man, he is at the loft at 5am seven days a week, and he is always on the look out for pigeons he can bring in to improve their team. He likes to win at all distances but really loves the Channel. Once the water races arrive, they start feeding heavier, adding maples to the mix, and in the three days before basketing they feed hemp and peanuts, this being the only time the birds are fed in their boxes. Feeding for 350 miles and 600 miles is basically the same. That said, George added that everyone feeds differently so basically if a pigeon is right it will come regardless of how it is fed. In the week after St Nazaire their hen had no work and in the week before Bordeaux she had just a couple of 30-mile tosses.

That wraps up another successful race but before finishing we would like to send our commiserations to Colin Banyard of Oswaldtwistle whose loft burnt down at the weekend. Colin was competing in this race and it meant that he had to catch his bird in the garden in order to clock it. His many friends in the sport would like to wish him all the best.

A full report on all National Flying Club races appears on within 48 hours of each race being flown.