Latest News

June 8, 2020


Over the past weeks we have been monitoring the situation in respect of travelling to France for the purpose of Pigeon Racing.

The following facts are relevant:

  1. The FCF will provide permits for liberations in France.
  2. The Government advises against non-essential journey.
  3. The UK Government will impose a 14 day isolation requirement on anyone entering/returning to the UK from 8th June 2020
  4. As a result of the isolation period imposed by the UK government the French Government will ask travellers from the UK to observe a voluntary 14 day self-quarantine period, effective from 8th June 2020.

What is an Essential Journey? The following has been taken from the Foreign and Commonwealth office and highlighted in italics:

Definition of essential travel’ Sometimes we say that only essential travel is advised. Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision. You may have urgent family or business commitments to attend to. Circumstances differ from person to person. Only you can make an informed decision based on the risks.

Are there exemptions to the 14 day quarantine? Yes. Initially this included haulage drivers’ with no further clarification. However this has changed recently and the following (in italics) has been taken from

Drivers of goods vehicles or public service vehicles and other employees of community licence holders for the international carriage of goods or passengers by coach and bus. You’ll need to complete the Public Health passenger locator form before you travel to the UK. You will not need to self-isolate for 14 days. You’ll need to show that your travel is part of your job, for example a letter from your employer, a consignment note or your operator’s licence.

Is the transportation of pigeons for racing purposes an essential journey? As clarified above, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office state that it is for the individual to establish what is an essential journey.

Will our drivers be exempt from the quarantine period? Without the exemption confirmed by the Home Office organisations will have to apply their own judgement. However, based on the information provided above, if the driver can demonstrate the journey is carried out as part of his/her job then they may be exempt.


We are currently working with the home office to achieve an exemption for pigeon transportation that would include those travelling for other reasons other than their job. This is being dealt with by the Home Office as an urgent request. In the meantime organisations should use their own judgement. This may include assessing any risk based on the information above along with further information available on the Government websites. A further update will be provided asap.

Ian Evans CEO RPRA

June 5, 2020

NFC 2020 Revised Race Program

Race 1. 4th July Fougeres basket Wednesday 1st July(entries to the NFC Sec no later than Monday 29/6)

Race 2. 18th July Nort-sur-Erdre basket Wednesday 15th July(similar distance Messac)(entries to the NFC Sec no later than Monday 13/7)

Race 3. 31st July NFC Grand National Pau(Friday Lib) basket Monday 27th July(entries to the NFC Sec no later than Saturday 25/7)

Race 4. 15th August Fougeres basket Wednesday 12th August(entries to the NFC Sec no later than Monday 10/8)

Races 5&6. 5th September Coutances Old Hens & Youngbirds basket 2nd September(entries to the NFC Sec no later than Monday 31/8)

May 4, 2020

RPRA update

Covid-19: Training and Racing

Firstly I would like to outline that Training remains strictly prohibited and anyone undertaking training may be jeopardising the achievement of a position whereby we can train and race as soon as is reasonably possible.We need to demonstrate that we can collectively follow simple instructions. While I am happy to say that we have received few reports in terms of police authorities having stopped and found fanciers undertaking a non-essential journey while training their pigeons; it is unfortunate to learn that some members have been dealt with by the authorities for carrying out training. In the interest of the sport and the wider community these individuals should stop immediately. You will be aware that myself, President and Vice Presidents have developed a protocol for race marking and clock striking. This protocol has been approved by the RPRA Council and presented to the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Pigeon Racing. Discussions have been escalated and we hope to be in a position to announce positive news in due course. However, I must stress that there are no guarantees. Continuing to train in the current restrictions could jeopardise our relationship with the authorities on whom we may be relying on to allow racing if and when restrictions are lifted Please be assured that we are doing all that is reasonably possible to achieve a position where training and racing can commence while adhering to certain restrictions.

Ian Evans RPRA CEO

April 28, 2020

Vaccination Code of Practice

RPRA Rules Page 29

As a result of current social distancing rules the requirement for the vaccinations of pigeons to be witnessed by two association members has been relaxed. Wherever possible vaccination should be witnessed by family members or members of the same household. This will remain in place until the Government lifts the restriction on social distancing.

Ian Evans RPRA CEO

April 14, 2020

RPRA Directive

Training Pigeons During Coronavirus Restrictions

As you will appreciate the decision taken to prohibit ALL training was taken in line with Government restrictions relating to non-essential travel and was therefore in reality a decision of Government. However, it seems that some members are continuing to train their pigeons while carrying out essential journeys, such as travelling to work. To provide clarity in relation to training we wish to confirm that ALL training is prohibited; even if carried out via an essential journey. Members should consider that training whether as part of an essential journey or not will result in pigeons straying/becoming injured. This may lead to pigeons falling into the care of non-fanciers who are unable to care for the bird. This WILL result in a journey that is totally unavoidable, whether its the owner collecting the bird or the non-fancier delivering the bird to a vet or a nearby fancier; thereby increasing the risk of spreading the virus and placing lives at risk. Anyone training during this period will be dealt with under RPRA rules relating to dishonourable conduct.

Ian Evans CEO

March 25, 2020


The following content has been agreed by members of the Confederation including RPRA, NEHU, SHU, WHU but excluding the IHU. As of 23rd March the UK government brought in further restrictions to limit the spread and impact of the coronavirus. As a direct result pigeon racing will be suspended until at least 23rd May 2020. The RPRA and other Unions will continue to monitor the situation. Updates will be published when available. Furthermore, the following applies to all members: Training of pigeons is classed as non-essential travel and is therefore strictly prohibited.

Ian Evans CEO

March 13, 2020

New RPRA Rule

Dear Secretary I wish to bring to your attention that the following new rule was implemented at the 2020 RPRA AGM When dealing with applications this rule should be considered and adhered - New Rule 159 (b) Any RPRA member who is refused membership of a club in accordance with Rule 159 shall be notified in writing. Such notification shall include a reason for the refusal. The applicant then has 14 days to object the decision to his/her local region. The region shall determine whether the reason is justifiable. If the region find that the refusal for membership was not justifiable then the RPRA member will be granted membership of the club.

Ian Evans CEO

February 29, 2020

Secretary’s Report

Firstly, January came and went with The Show of The Year being the main attraction. Personally, I gave it a miss this year and my only observation is the wallet feels heavier”! But I’m sure everyone will have enjoyed their yearly jaunt to Blackpool not least when meeting old friends.


At the Sportsman we held our AGM which as usual was well attended. All officials remain as last year. (However, we would welcome an Assistant Secretary for 2020 with a view to taking over the job in 2021 when I step down). We kick of the season with 37 members although new applications are still being accepted. Annual subscriptions remain at £20.

Our main financial concern is around transportation costs from Toft Hill to Sheffield. With the NFC tightening its financial belt we do face ever increasing cost in transferring the birds to meet up with the NFC Transporter (a round trip of 250 miles). For this reason, we will be running another young bird sale which will start Thursday 17th April and end 10 days later (Sunday the 27th) There will be a full advert in the Pigeon Press with details of each lot. The auction will be controlled through The Compare the Pigeon website”. The sales list is already well in hand and we have again received some generous pledges of young birds from top National UK lofts as well as top class young birds from our club members. So put the date in your dairy and take time to study the sales list you will be impressed by the quality available.

Messac National Show Race

Club member Gary Heslington stepped forward to be run the Club annual Show race on 22/2/20 to be flown in conjunction with the Messac National. In total there were 37 birds in the show pens for the judge Kevin Winter, to sort out. After a diligent selection he awarded BIS & BOS to Craig Thompson with Paul Kitching & Jeff Walton taking second places in the cocks and hens respectively. He also picked up the Deweert Trophy for BIS.

In total members will be competing for £285 race prize money split 1st £170 and 2nd £115 with an additional £120 Pools in the kitty. Best of luck to everyone competing. And a big thank you to Kevin who did a grand job judging.

Vanrobaey Sponsorship

Since the AGM I have also had confirmation from Vanrobaey Feeds that for the fifth year in a row they will Sponsor our full National race card with prizes from their range of both pigeon feeds and a quality racing supplements. Many thanks to Tom Demeester and his Agent, Terry Knox for their great support.

2020 Racing Season

We are rapidly approaching March and many fanciers are well advanced with breeding even have babies parted. Those more interested in the long to extreme distance races are less enthusiastic about early breeding nevertheless I suspect many long hours will have been spent wrestling with sorting out pairings. Unfortunately, the elephant in the room, is the fickle weather. It is some years since we experienced heavy and prolonged spells of snow in the North East, just maybe we have seen the last of the 6 feet snow drifts. Indeed, I believe the evidence of Climate Change requires us to review when we start and end the racing season, perhaps it is time to grasp the nettle and introduce mixed old and young bird racing as standard practice in the UK. Strategically leading Pigeon Administration bodies and National Clubs should be driving any reviews as individual members will themselves be unable to bring about change. Hopefully the RPRA will step up to the plate on this score.

Presently the heavy rainfall has caused horrendous flooding demonstrating the impacts of unpredictability brought about by Climate Change. It is for this reason and the lack of national leadership that I suggest fanciers reflect on racing conditions encountered in the last couple of years not least the extreme temperatures. If in 2020 we experience more violent rainstorms or extreme heat perhaps even a combination of both, I suggest fanciers may be challenged to reconsider their own approach to loft management and racing.

Personally, I have already selected the main target races for my team and decided greater discipline on my part is required. Firstly, not putting all one’s eggs in the same basket will be my starter for 10. Advancing the training schedule of the yearlings and adjusting the feeding regimes and arranging a full pre-racing health check in March has also been pencilled in the diary. There remain some 6 weeks before Saturday club racing starts let’s hope for a fair wind and good returns. Before we know it the first Nationals will be just around the corner and it will be time to rock and roll. Best of luck to All.

December 20, 2019

RPRA Organisation Insurance 2020

With ever increasing legislation members are at risk of claims for situations including health and safety. As an unincorporated organisation it would be the members who would be held liable for any claim. To mitigate this risk a number of clubs (approx 300) had taken out policies through the RPRA Insurance broker. The actual number of clubs with such cover would be far greater. The annual cost of such policies was anything between £200 to £400 and in some cases even greater. In 2018/19 the RPRA was approached by a number of clubs requesting help with sourcing Public Liability Insurance. These requests were as a direct result of venues/headquarters stipulating such cover was required to use the services and facilities. In today’s culture of blame and claims this requirement is only likely to increase.

In 2019 the RPRA Council were presented with an insurance policy proposal that would provide all it’s affiliated clubs and organisations with Public Liability , Employers Liability Insurance and cover for equipment owned by affiliated clubs and organisations at a cost of £2 per member. After careful consideration the RPRA council took the decision to procure the policy and fund it from existing financial reserves.

At Octobers meeting the renewal of the policy (due March 2020) was discussed. Taking into consideration the risk and liability to members along with the value for money of a block policy’ when compared to individual club polices it was agreed that the policy should be renewed.

Funding the policy from existing financial reserves was not viable and therefore it was the majority decision of the Council that members should pay a £2 insurance premium in 2020 to finance the policy.

In today’s day and age it may be considered irresponsible for clubs to operate without such cover. Therefore I hope members can see the benefits and reasoning behind the decision of Council. This difficult decision was taken in the best interests of the members.

As previously reported the Insurance Policy will cover the following:

  • Public Liability Insurance for £5 million
  • Employers Liability Insurance for £10 million
  • Property cover for items such as but not limited to clocks, computers, baskets & trophies
December 14, 2019

Sportsman FC Presentation Night

The club held its annual prize presentation at the Sportsman in Toft Hill on Wednesday 23rd October. Our main guest Peter Virtue made the long journey down from Scotland along with his good friend Duncan Knox to be with us. Both have a long association with the Scottish National Racing Pigeon Club (SNRPC) and are very active in the national racing. Peter has developed a family of birds which excel at the distance and has amassed 13 National wins. Duncan is also a previous National winner and is the Press Officer for the SNRPC. We also had the pleasure of having Mrs Hazel Gaskill and her grandson Liam join us for the evening. This was especially poignant as it was 10 years to the week that her late husband George called the inaugural meeting of the Sportsman club which now has well over 40 members.

Chairman Jeff Walton got the night underway promptly, introducing the guests and offering a warm welcome to everyone. Jeff went through some of the season’s highlights and thanked the many sponsors and supporters of the club including, Paul Stobbs, Vanrobaey Feeds, Terry Knox, Mr and Mrs Harry Crowther. There was also a special mention for our hosts Belle and John who really do look after us during the year making us feel welcome.

The Chairman kicked off the prize presentation by asking Mrs Gaskill and her grandson Liam to present the much coveted George Gaskill Memorial Trophy to Bob Mckie winner of the Cholet National.

Then Peter Virtue came forward and addressed the audience saying how delighted he was to be invited. Describing how he always followed the clubs progress in the pigeon press adding how tough it was to compete in the NFC when flying so far North. Peter was full of praise for the winners and urged Sportsman members to keep going as he was confident that one day an Open winner would emerge from our midst.

First up to the table were Ian & Lyn Carter from Middlesbrough who gained a 4th club & section in a testing Fougeres National where returns were desperately poor. Unfortunately, the rest of their season was a bit patchy because of a pending house move. I understand they are now settled in their new home and a new Eco loft has been erected and everything is being geared to the 2020 season. Best wishes are sent to Lyn who could not make event.

It was then the turn of Brian Hopper and Son from the small village of Greenside to come forward having scored an excellent 2nd club 2nd Section N from Messac. These lads moved their lofts last year and had only a capful of birds to compete with but still achieved some excellent Channel results. So, beware Sportsman members as many years ago I flew against Brian’s grandfather Bill Taylor who scored many fine victories at the distance and they plan to emulate his achievements.

Our hardworking Chairman Jeff Walton & Son from Coxhoe was next up after winning a 2nd and 5th club & 2nd and 7th section Cholet. This has been quiet year for him and his son Matthew who does a great job hosting the club website. However, there is no doubt that blending their Jos Thone/Peter Virtue bloodlines will bring the loft back into future contention and success.

It was then the turn of Allan and Carol Walker from Stockton who in the last few years have quietly acquired some top distance bloodlines. They are big supporters of the National Flying Club and Sportsman and this year they won 3rd club & section from the difficult Fougeres National, following this up with a strong 4th club & 8th section Sigogne and an excellent 2nd club & section Coutances Old hens. There is much more to come from this loft which is improving year on year.

There was then a big applause as Barrie Blackett from Butterknowle stepped up to collect his prizes and the Owen Shaw Trophies cup. An exceptional distance flier Barrie has created his own chaos” system and exploits it with great effect in both Saturday and National racing especially with his yearlings. He won 1st and 2nd Sportsman & section from Fougeres, winning the sponsorship prize of £50 from Mr & Mrs Harry Crowther. Barrie also won 4th club 5th section Cholet as well as winning £140 for being runner up in the Messac Show Race. I want to say a big thank you to Barrie for his unstinting support to the clock committee where he looks after all our ETS.

Last season’s top prize winners were next to the table, Dave McSween & Jim Sexton from Sunderland. They won 5th club & section Messac, 3rd club & 7th section Sigogne, 3rd club & section Coutances Old Hens and finally another outstanding 1st & 2nd club & section in the Coutances Young bird National. Every year these lads set their young bird team up for this national which is over 400 miles to their lofts. They have consistently hit the mark and I know they will be trying even harder in 2020. Also many lofts are flying well with their birds including the very successful Tom Williams in Orpington, Kent. Tom has achieved many fine performances in both the NFC & BICC in recent years flying no more than 12 cocks on widowhood with their best bloodlines.

Next up, our hardworking Secretary/Treasurer Bob Mckie from Blackhall Mill, who was Joint winner of the Averages by taking 1st and 3rd Club & section Cholet, scooping the Paul Stobbs £100 sponsorship prize. Then 1st 2nd and 5thClub, 4th, 6th & 9th section Sigogne. Timba a 5 year old Cheq Cock who won Cholet race was runner up Bird of the Year.

Finally, it was the turn of Brian Wiemer & Son from Hartlepool to step forward. Joint winners of the Averages winning 1st, 3rd & 4th club & section Messac and picking up £210 for winning the club Show Race. In the Coutances Old Hens race they were back on top winning 1st, 4th & 5th club & section from Coutances Old Hens. Their winner achieved the highest open position of the season in the club when taking 94th Open. Their 3 year old Mealy hen winner from Messac was also unanimously voted Bird of the Year.

Bouquets of flowers were presented to Mrs Gaskill and Belle before everyone enjoyed another great buffet provided by our hosts.

I must make a special mention and offer our thanks to Kevin Winter who was also with us for the evening. Kevin was the judge of our Messac Show race back in February and what an excellent job he did. Kevin kindly donated a basket full of Pigeon products/supplements which were raffled during the evening and the lucky winner was Tom Cuthbertson. This was a popular results as Tom is a hardworking member of the club who timed out of the difficult Tarbes race but just out of time. Thanks again Kevin your generosity is much appreciated.

As usual the crack was good and during the evening Garry Heslington auctioned a small number of lots presented by this year’s club winners. Thanks to those members who pledged the auction lots and best wishes to all the buyers.

Although the turnout this year was a tad disappointing, everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed the evening and were already thinking about next season.

Competing in
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