Husband and wife team, Dave and Pat Evans, cemented their place among the North Road Championship Club elite with an impressive win in the PJ Lofts-sponsored race from Thurso, the final old bird race of the season.
. It was their fourth open win with the NRCC. They won the Arbroath race in 2014, and have won the old hens’ classic twice, in 2012 and 2015.
Add to this countless wins in their Alford club, and repeatedly topping the Peterborough and District Federation, makes them fanciers to be reckoned with in recent years.
They have named their latest winner Starlight. She is a five-year-old blue hen of Wily Thas lines from their good friend, the late legend, Frank Tasker.
Whereas the Evans normally compete on the roundabout system, this hen never had a partner all season and was raced celibate, going to every race except Lerwick. Although they have not made up their mind for sure, it is likely that she will join their other three NRCC winners in the stock loft.
All the open winners are hens and Pat, speaking for the partnership, said that they invariably do better with the hens than the cocks.
“She has been a good little hen,” said Pat.
They sent ten birds to Thurso and had eight home, six of them on the day.
“The wind was in our favour and we are in a good position,” added Pat somewhat modestly. True, of course, but whatever the wind, and whatever the position, the fanciers, birds and their condition have to be spot on to gain major success, and the partners’ dedication and hard work was justly rewarded.
They had to wait threequarters of an hour for their next arrival.
Both Dave and Pat are 70 years old, retired, and celebrated their golden wedding last year. “I think I will stay with him now I know all his odd ways,” cracked Pat.
Retirement has allowed Dave to spend more time with the pigeons, but has also meant that money won has to go in “the pot” to cover expenses, and not in Pat’s pocket, as used to be the case.
They acknowledge that they owe much of their success over recent years to the knowledge, and birds, they acquired from Frank Tasker, and regard themselves fortunate to have benefited from his advice and friendship.
Dave, a retired engineer, and Pat share their hobby. “I could not do it without her,” said Dave. And they have made many friends from their social involvement in the sport.
One who has been key to their consistent success has been Guy Geveart whom they met on the trips to Belgium organised by the man who helped, and inspired them so much, the late Frank Tasker.
They have since become friends with Guy and now have six pigeons, and plenty of advice, from him every year, invariably with a successful outcome.
Dave first had pigeons as a boy and, after a break while he was an apprentice, he re-started in 1983 and he and Pat are enjoying them more than ever now that they are retired.
At the time of their Arbroath win two years ago Dave said: “There is more time and everything, including the birds, is calmer now, and you don’t have to rush about. We enjoy the social side of the sport and are lucky to compete in a good club at Alford where there is such a good atmosphere among members. They are a really good lot. “We still miss Frank Tasker a great deal. He was good to us as he was to so many other fanciers.”
Dave finds that the roundabout system works well for them, and utilises the hens to full advantage. They don’t train after the first race, and he says the hens, in particular, exercise well, flying at least an hour each morning and evening.
Race secretary Ian Bellamy’s view of the race, which was delayed until Tuesday because of bad weather, was as follows:
“After a 7.40am liberation, I thought that the first verifications would be around 3.00pm and, sure enough, the first to verify on Libline was Walton Bros at Ollerton. After inputting their time on the website, I saw that Riggott and Richardson had also verified.
“In doing over 1500 ypm I thought that the birds would tumble in. This did not seem to happen, there would be a flurry of around 7 to 8 birds then a gap for around 15 minutes. This carried on for most of the duration of the race, although I suspect the longer flying birds had more showers to contend with.
“Up to the close of race on the first day, 122 members had verified out of 154 who sent, thus proving that it was worth the wait to liberate until Tuesday.”
A total of154 members sent 1055 birds. Section winners are provisionally:
Section A - Mr & Mrs A Waudby, Mansfield.
Section B - Walton Bros, Ollerton.
Section C - Mr & Mrs D Evans, Alford.
Section E - A Bennett, Peterborough.
Section F - M Bishop & Son, March.
Section H - B Cowan., London.
Section I - Mr & Mrs R & P Smith, Laindon.