On the 18th of February 2017, planes trains and automobiles carried the twenty strong contingent of UK fanciers, comprising of the winners together with invited guests, to the 36th Golden Duif awards in Antwerp, Belgium. This being the first time the UK and Ireland could compete for the Golden Duif award meant that those who had entered and won, could truly place themselves on the International podium to receive the accolade of peers in the heart of Europe.
Thirty-Six years ago, in 1981, Jan Hermans, together with the late Stan Raeymakers with his son Gus, organised the first Golden Duif Awards in Belgium. These awards are based on the best coefficient of nominated birds for Belgium, Holland and Germany in 3 categories for Short, middle and long distance, and around 25 years ago, the International marathon races were added. For 2016 the UK and republic of Ireland were also welcomed into the competition based on the best coefficient, multiplied by the number of pigeons entered by the individual fancier. Five categories were decided on, these being short distance, middle distance, long distance, plus marathon, together with a category for young birds.
Stuart Wilcox, Peter Fox and Rik Hermans had long thought that the UK and Eire should be able to participate in the awards, and the National Flying Club were proud to assist in any way possible, but our differing structure of racing had made it more complicated than in other European countries. So a plan was devised between the three and the rules of entry were set with the view to tweek where necessary as the future seasons unfold. For 2016 a form could be downloaded from the National Flying Club website, that is open to all organisations, and once completed with your best results, sent into Stuart Wilcox who calculated each coefficient to declare the winners of each category. The overall Champion would be the one loft who scored the lowest coefficient overall having entered a result for each one of the categories.
Awards are given for each category for each country and an overall Golden Duif Champion declared over all categories entered, again based on a coefficient. This would comprise of your position, timed by 100 and then divided by the number of pigeons in the race giving the coefficient, and for the UK only, it would then be times by the number of pigeons you entered. For example 2nd Open NFC Ancenis for Nigel Templar would be calculated as 2 times by 100= 200 divided by the number of birds in the race, 5120b times by the 22 birds he entered giving a coefficient of 0.859.
The celebrations began in the late afternoon around 4pm with the presentations intervened by three artists and an auction of donated pigeons from winning fanciers. The funds from this auction goes towards funding the lavish occasion and hundreds attended from all around the world. Food and drinks were available throughout the evening and fanciers chatted amongst the very best names in Europe.
There was even a Japanese film crew interviewing top fanciers and I am pleased to say Darling & Ede of Southampton made a very good representation of the UK fanciers for Japanese television, with the help of an interpreter.
Each country was called up in turn and after the Golden Duif Champion award came the National Anthem for that country along with standing applause and when it came time for the UK and Eire first up, in third place was Richard Turner of the Turner & Pallatt partnership. Unfortunately Dean Pallatt could not attend so Richard received the award along with the applause and he thoroughly enjoyed the occasion.
In first place, winning the General Champion Award was the partnership of G W P Macalony of Glasgow. A partnership of three generations but with George unable to make the trip due to his age of 86 years, it was left to son Willy and grandson Paul to take the center stage and receive the Golden Duif Award for the UK and Ireland. A video of their very professional set up, with the William Wallace monument as the back drop, was followed by the whole room standing to the Scottish National Anthem, receiving a huge amount of cheers and applause for the very first UK winners in this prestigious completion upon the world stage. A very emotional time indeed and one that will not be forgotten as they proudly accepted the Golden Pigeon engraved with their achievement.
Please look out for the form on the National Flying Club website to enter your best results in the categories for the 2017 season and if you have any questions on filling out the form correctly, please contact Stuart Wilcox or myself.