John Hemmings of Rochford
The British International Championship Club race from Le Mans was held until Monday morning due to heavy thunderstorms initially, along the north coast of France on the Saturday, migrating northwards towards England on the Sunday.
So with a clear sky and light northwest winds the race controller liberated the pigeons at 6:45am on the Monday. Due to members having work commitments the committee of the club decided to relax the verification rule just for this race. This is the rule that each member first timing and details of the pigeon must be telephoned in to the secretary within 30 minutes of arrival, and I commend the decision to relax proceedures for this race. Pigeon Racing is a hobby and it should not be detrimental or difficult for the working man, or woman, if this situation occurs.
So as the race began to unfold and timings were appearing on the clubs website, the provisional result could not be taken too seriously until late in the evening as some timings were not received until after working hours. John Hemmings of Rochford works for a pigeon fancier so was able to take an hour off to time his pigeons from the race. He had expected them 15 minutes earlier than the time they arrived so he went back to work thinking he was “off the pace” and it was not until he received a phone call after work that he realized he had won the National race. John likes to keep things simple in his life and does not have a mobile phone or use the Internet so it came as a pleasant surprise.
When I called to arrange my visit he was somewhat indifferent to the attention he was receiving and wondered what all the fuss was about. But after a short chat it was decided I would see him the next day after he returned home from work. Unfortunately my progress was delayed due to a fatal accident on the road near Johns home and it left me and many others stranded for two hours in our cars pondering on the important things in life. Someone’s loved one was not going to be returning home from work that day and it puts it all in perspective.
So when I did arrive at John’s home loft he had waited in patiently for me and had a welcome cup of tea ready. As I was loosing the light fast we quickly made our way up the garden to see his lofts and pigeons but it was too dark to get any photographs of the inside, although I managed to salvage the trip by getting some of the outside of his lofts.
John is 65 years old and he showed me the loft he built himself when he was 10, another when he was 16 and finally a brick built loft he constructed when he was 20! It looked very special to see the years before me of Johns hobby and paintings on the older lofts like “The Pigeon Inn” made me smile and I could imagine the proud 10 year old boy painting it on there. There was also instructions like “do not wear red on these premises” and one for the pigeons to sign in on arrival to the trap.
John had begun the season racing natural but lost some of his cocks after a few bad races, so he held an imbalance of hens in his lofts, which he decided to race celibate. So in order to motivate them, he allowed some older stock cocks the parade around in the corridor of the loft and it was in this condition he sent his winning hen.
Being a July late bred from 2013, and wearing an old ring from the year before, she had been trained all through the winter and still is still carrying nest flights. But with it being late in the old bird season, she was now more than ready to pair to one of the cocks and suitably motivated to return home as fast as possible.
She is a slightly built blue hen of Soontjen bloodlines, which John obtained from a local ace called John Buckfield. One year he had lost all his young birds and Mr. Buckfield offered him the loan of a five pairs to set himself up and they won for him right from the start. Her father was second in a hard open race from Narbonne and her mother was also a winner from Bergerac. So channel winning pigeons make up the parentage of this little late-bred hen and now she has proven further their quality by winning the British International Championship Club for him.