December 1, 2020
Review of 2020
Although racing was delayed across the UK, given all things considered it was a successful season. Fanciers were able to enjoy limited old bird racing and a competitive young bird racing despite Covid. The early ban on training did proved to be problematical, nevertheless when announced the shorter NFC race programme was most welcome. I must also say a big well done to the RPRA for their efforts in representing the Sport at Government level to secure racing. As was the production of their guidance around race protocols. (Mind you it still makes me smile when I think about the 2metre pole when rubbering birds!!). At the Toft Hill marking station everything went well and as I/C would once again wish to offer my thanks and gratitude in particular to Barrie Blackett, Jim Sexton and Jeff Walton for the sterling work they did throughout the national programme in marking race entries. I suspect the Government has real concerns over controlling the Corona Virus and we may face similar protocols throughout 2021 unless the pharmaceutical industry can magic up a range of effective vaccines before then. Whilst things are looking more promising on this front it remains a major, major challenge.
National Racing 2020
The first National from Fougeres was quickly followed by Messac then the Blue Riband race from Pau with the season rounded off at Coutances for the YB/OH’s national. Sportsman members like all fanciers faced a stiff challenge to get sufficient miles into the bird’s wings and bring on some form. In the end the lack of training did dint the Sportsman entry levels nevertheless there were some excellent performances not least by the father and son partnership of John and Steven Best. They won the Club and Section N from both Fougeres and the Coutances Old Hens nationals bagging the Club Averages and the Bird of the year with their Chequer Hen 17 TV 4206. We then had new member Tony Lyons picking up 1st Club 3rd Section N from Messac. The partnership of McSween and Sexton put up another awesome young bird performance taking 1st Club and Section N in the Coutances national after timing at 7.25pm on the day flying 402 miles. However, for me the highlight performance of our club season was that of Allen and Carol Walker when winning 1st Club and Section N. 325thOpen from Pau flying 778 miles. Brilliant stuff and much deserved. Unfortunately, like most clubs our members have not been able share and applaud these successes because our presentation evening has been cancelled due to the virus mayhem. Prize money and cards have already been posted to members and Trophies along with a framed photograph of each winner will be distributed asap.
Autumn Round Up
The 2020 Autumn/Winter is going to be a long affair due to the absence of AGM’s, presentations, local shows and the situation is even more aggravated with no Blackpool! However, at these testing times keeping racing birds brings real and immeasurable benefits from a wellbeing point of view. It also gives you more time to prepare for the breeding season and get all those outstanding DIY jobs done around the house to earn a few brownie points!!
Club Management Group
Following RPRA advice the Sportsman created a small Management Group (MG) as set out below, to address immediate club business and an AGM will take place at the first convenient opportunity.
- Chairman: Jeff Walton
- Secretary: Ian Carter
- Treasurer: Bob Mckie
- Press Officer: Paul Kitching
- RPRA/NFC Rep: Jim Sexton
The MG believe it sensible to leave 2021 club subscriptions (£20) and race prize money the same as last season. At the start of 2020 we kicked off with 36 members and are looking to build on that number with several new applications from fanciers across the North East already received.
Ian Carter is gradually taking over the Secretary job from Bob McKie and will be in post full time from the beginning of January. He has lots of fresh ideas and has already launched a Facebook Group “Sportsman National Flying Club”.
We have been busy seeking additional Sponsors for next season and are delighted to report that we have secured support from Formula 1 Lofts, Owen Shaw Trophies, Tumley Lofts with several other possible deals under consideration.
At the recent NFC General Meeting in October the 2021 race programme was discussed and signed off:
- 22 May - Fougeres
- 5 June - Messac
- 19 June - Nort-Sur-Erdre
- 2 July - Pau (Friday liberation)
- 24 July - Sigogne
- 4 September - Coutances OH/YB
This programme provides a gradual increase in distance from middle to extreme. The Sportsman FC at Toft Hill offers a great NFC route for distance enthusiasts across the North East wishing to test their birds and management skills against the top UK national fanciers. Check out our club website at www.sportsmanfc.com and have a look at the Gallery and check-out our club winners in recent years.
There is a Marking Station for NFC events at Toft Hill where we normally basket on Wednesdays after which the birds are transported to Sheffield and transferred to the NFC Transporter. The transporters are top of the range, fully refurbished/upgraded for the 2020 racing season with GPS Tracking and kitted out with aluminium crates, an automatic watering system and quality air conditioning. The birds always return in tiptop condition having received excellent care from Dom McCoy (Chief Convoyer) and his team. On race days you can follow the race progress on the NFC Website “early leader” board which all adds to the complete national experience.
Young Bird “Phone-line” Sale
Next year we are planning our Young Bird Phone-In sale in March/April. Several top National lofts and supporters of the club have already pledged youngsters and details will appear in the Fancy Press closer to the sale date when arrangements are finalised.
Although we continue to struggle with the impacts of Covid, fanciers still need to stay alert to the risks of Bird Flu. There have been a number of unrelated confirmed cases in England (the first in Kent and the second, larger and more serious outbreak in Cheshire.) with increasing reports of viral influenza affecting flocks in mainland Europe. It is vitally important that all fanciers stay alert and have good biosecurity systems in place to minimise risk. It is especially important to prevent wild birds from entering lofts and that vaccination programmes are kept up to date.
If interested in joining the Sportsman and would like more information just give Ian Carter or Bob McKie or Jeff Walton a quick call on 07851 977383 or 07308 236113 or 07966 495952 respectively.
October 14, 2020
2020 Prize Money/Cards will be sent out to all winners later this week.
I am sure all the members will wish to congratulate all our winners especially John and Steven who not only win the Averages but attained the highest Open position with 18TV4331 in the Coutances OH National on the 5th September. They also had the Bird of the Year 17TV4206 who put up a brilliant performance from Fougeres on 6th July when winning Club, Section and 444th Open with almost 10,000 birds competing.
Then we had the winning performance of McSween & Sexton in the Coutances Young Bird National with GB20N67059 an awesome performance from 402 miles being the only bird home on the day in both the Club and Section winning 275th Open against a consignment of 3403 birds.
Also, a special mention for Allen & Carol Walker who timed their 6year old hen Lily from Pau winning the Club, Section and 325th Open flying 778 miles.
We should also send a big well done to Tony Lyons a new member to the Club who won the Messac National on a very testing day.
Trophies will be presented at the first opportunity Covid 19 restrictions are sufficiently relaxed.
I also wish to send thanks to Sid Forster (WDA), Duncan Knox (SNRPC) and Barry Winter (NFC) for judging the Bird of the Year Competition.
Finally, watch out for the new Sportsman FC Facebook Group which Ian Carter is launching to promote the Club.
September 7, 2020
BHW Show Of The Year: Blackpool 2021
Following my note in July, I can confirm that Ian Evans and I have held another virtual meetings with both The Winter Gardens and Visit Blackpool to further discuss the possibilities of holding The BHW Show of The Year in January 2021. We have also consulted the Show Committee and all stakeholders of the event. I can now advise that, with regret, the committee have come to the decision not to hold a Show in 2021 due to the uncertainties and risks in holding such a public event. We have considered reducing the size of the event and all possible means and formats to achieving a physical Show, but feel that to do so would dilute and devalue what has become an annual pigeon extravaganza. The Government have advised that they will make an announcement regarding the staging of similar events to the show at the earliest in October, such a time scale we feel would not allow us adequate time to effectively organise the event, and if we went ahead and they did place any restrictions on the manner it could be held this would cause disappointment to all involved. In addition we have to consider the welfare of all those involved in the show’s organisation during the event, stewards, judges, trade stand holders and the rest, and the possibilities that by holding the show we could be putting them at risk and become party to increasing the spread of Covid19. Taking all this into account and even considering a reformatted show we believe it is the responsible decision not to hold the show in 2021, and by making this decision early we believe we are being fair to everyone involved, saving them from making any potentially unnecessary arrangements, and financial outlay. We look forward to returning in 2022. Our 50th year, with renewed vitality and enthusiasm, to put on an event worthy of such an achievement, an achievement of which every fancier in the UK should be proud! See you in 2022!
David Trippett Chair — BHW Show of the year Committee
Ian Evans CEO
June 8, 2020
RACING FROM FRANCE
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:
- The FCF will provide permits for liberations in France.
- The Government advises against non-essential journey.
- The UK Government will impose a 14 day isolation requirement on anyone entering/returning to the UK from 8th June 2020
- 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 http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules:
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
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
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
RPRA Update - IMPORTANT
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