Mr and Mrs Titcomb of Portishead.
On the morning of the 8th June 2014, Paul Titcomb of Portishead was erecting a small gazebo in his garden. He had wanted somewhere to sit in shelter from the elements whilst he waited for his racing pigeons to come home from the races, and on that day, the National Flying Club had liberated the pigeons in Cholet, France, at 6:45am in a light west wind after a one day hold over due to thunderstorms. The partnership had entered seven of their pigeons into the race and when listening to the discussions of his fellow club members, decided he had time to do a little more work on his garden project, when all of a sudden a flash of blue in the sky caught the corner of his eye.
It was one of his pigeons and he immediately thought it was a good time as it was one of his National entries.
The bird circled once to line himself up and pitched right on to the landing board of his loft, staggered a little as he went through the bob hole, over the electronic timing system, and went immediately for a drink…. a good long drink!
Soon after there was another arrival from the race and Paul thought maybe all the pigeons in the area were coming home quicker than expected. So when he verified the arrival of his first pigeon, he though little of actually winning the National.
After a few minutes though, the phone began ringing with information that he was on top of the leader board, to which Paul replied that there would be faster pigeons, up county, due to the strengthening south wind inland. But as the race unfolded , further flying pigeons began to appear on the National Flying Clubs website, and they still held on to the top position.
Later in the day, a friend called to say he had calculated that the furthest flying members should have verified by then, so they began to accept the many calls of congratulations that accompany a National Flying Club win and the fact that their dream had come true.
Two years previously, Paul and his wife Chris had gone over to Belgium to find and purchase some new pigeons.
Paul had studied the results and they decided they would try to acquire some Herman-Ceuster birds when a stroke of luck came as they were informed of a small loft, just south of Antwerp, that was doing very well with pigeons of this origin. They arranged a visit to Louis Thijs who sold them 20 youngsters to put into their race team and they agreed that none of them would be retained for breeding, although they were bred very close to the best of the Hearman-Ceusters.
The first two arrivals for the partnership are in actual fact nest mates from these original purchases!
Even more incredible, the sibling holds the second section and fifth open position which is quite an indication of the quality of the birds. The winning pigeon was in fact considered a hen as a yearling and was loaned to a friend who was short of a hen at the time. After a few days his friend called and said it would not pair up as it was a cock so he was returned late last year and put back into the race team with a hen and soon settled back down in a nest box, just above his brother.
He was paired on Boxing Day with his hen and given pot eggs, which he was allowed to sit out after his hen was removed and he was on the widowhood system. He was given around eight short training tosses before the first club race and from then on, loft exercise twice per day, morning and evening. The partnership sends with the Bristol Federation, which has many races from Portland, which is 65 miles to the loft and the week before, was sent to Portland as preparation for the National. He was showing promise as a racer after getting some early prizes and indeed was also sent to the first National Flying Club race from Carentan winning 7th Section G and 154th Open out of 9400b.
Calling his hen to nest, he was quietly removed when she was jumping all over him and sent to the race. He is a very quiet and steady pigeon around the loft and all the pigeons get on very well together without fighting or trying to dominate other nest boxes. He lives in a two year old Tranter Loft, and a section containing 16 Hermes nest boxes. Paul is very pleased with his loft and would recommend the company to anyone, “they arrived in the morning and the whole loft was built and set up in just over six hours” he said.
Paul keeps the widowhood hens together with the 50 strong youngbird team and are flown regular to keep them fit. He does not have any problem keeping them keen for the cocks in this way and Paul will point out that he has many interests and considers pigeon racing purely as a hobby, so manages them around his work commitments accordingly.
All the pigeons are fed a widowhood mixture mixed 50/50 with a diet mixture and are given this all week, never breaking them down after the race.
Paul began racing his pigeons in 1985 after an introduction by his late father in law Ben Earnshaw, Paul would train his pigeons for him and gradually became more and more involved. Sadly Ben died of cancer some twenty six years ago but had asked Paul and Christine to promise to keep the loft going after his demise, which they did, so the winning pigeon has now been named Benny in deep respect of Christine’s father.
Whilst he was ill, Ben and Paul owned a Barker silver hen which duly bred a young bird that Ben really liked and he declared “this will win the big channel race” but his illness grew worse and he became bedridden although he could still see the pigeons from his bedroom window. Accordingly the young bird was sent to Cherbourg with the Federation in the big race which she won and took all pools!
Paul returned with the good news that Ben’s prediction came true, and he passed away peacefully just 15 minutes later. This National win for Paul and Christine Titcomb is a fitting tribute to the promise they made and kept.