The following article has been written by the Dover partnership of Neil and Philip Coleman winners in 2012 of the BICC Tours National on June 9th competing against 2,400 pigeons from all parts of the UK. It proves that you don’t have to have huge palatial lofts and a large team of pigeons to win a National race and therefore gives a great deal of encouragement to the vast majority of “back garden” fanciers within the sport.

Neil & Phillip Coleman Provisionally 1st Open BICC Tours

In 1988, after moving to Dover for work, the partnership of P Coleman & Sons was formed with Neil, his brother Jamie & dad Phil. The job came with a house and large garden to take our first ever loft, a 12ft x 6ft with 2 sections, an 8ft section for  natural racers and a 4ft young bird section. We also acquired a few old birds from friends Ron and Shelia Anderson (secretary to the former Bettshanger colliery pigeon club) and Tony Calabrese, a work colleague of Phil’s. All birds were flown naturally, we had no idea of what we were doing but we enjoyed it. Where we lived in Dover was the RPRA liberation site for Dover. My two boys enjoyed watching the liberations so much that the Welsh Fed gave the boys 3 eggs. This helped to start them on their way as pigeon fanciers. A lorry driver for the Kent Cosmopolitan Federation then gave them some young birds to add to their loft. Years later they won a National pet week title for flying east to west highest velocity. We all enjoyed an all expenses paid trip to Beaulieu motor museum as their prize with a trophy which Neil still has proudly displayed. Neil called the pigeon “Fire Engine” as it had 3 9s in the ring number.

 We moved to our present house in1993 and formed N&P Coleman, with Neil doing most of the work and Phil just helping now and again. Three years ago Phil took over the cleaning, feeding and watering of the pigeons when Neil married Lisa and moved out only a mile away. Phil and Neil still train together to keep costs down and Neil still selects the birds that are to be paired together and which birds are raced each week.


 Our lofts are now 18ft x 6ft plus an 8ft x 6ft young bird loft. The main loft is divided into 3 sections -an 8ft widowhood cock section, a 5ft natural section, and a 5ft hen section, Both lofts are cleaned out at least twice a week, We have 20 widowhood cock boxes and 8 natural boxes to race for the Club. We belong to Dover Premier Pigeon Club, which is in the Kent Cosmopolitan Federation and Kent Invicta Combine. We are also members of the BICC and National Flying Club, This year is the first time we have added a large number of young birds to our team as we helped out by returning a pigeon to P & C & C Cooper of Coalville, Swannington Leicestershire, who bred us a great team of Roland Jansens and Van Reet Young birds. We would like to thank them for their great generosity and help.


 We pair up at the same time each year; all birds are paired up at the same time so that we can move the eggs around from the birds that we want more from. On the 10th December, after breeding, they are split up again until 6 weeks before racing when widowers see their hens on return from training and naturals are paired up to sit on eggs or young birds depending on where they are racing from until the last race. Once racing is over they are split up again until December and the whole cycle is repeated. Our training programme is simple – we lock each section out for 30 minutes to an hour once per day when they have to take their chances with the hawks and falcons. I have lost 4 off the roof this year due to attacks from sparrow hawks or falcons all nesting near to Dover Castle, which is only a mile away. We train once a week to a distance from 10 miles to 30 miles depending on time, not what race we are at next. For overseas racing our training is done with the club as part of the race programme with the Kent Cosmopolitan Federation.

 Our young birds go out once a day - weather permitting and will have 8 training tosses before racing begins. The youngsters are raced with the Federation up to 250 miles but we split the team into two as our programme allows us to do this. The young birds are all raced on the natural system.


We feed either Bamford’s or Gem Best All Round mix with Depurative added to lighten the mix up a little. All food is measured to a 1oz per bird am & pm if anything is left over from the night before the next am feed is cut down until the birds clear alt he food in the trough. We also follow the Aviform supplement plan to condition and keep the birds healthy.


Our race team is mainly made up from Van Reets, Roland Jansen, Busschaert and Willy Thas. These have provided us with some good racers, which we have, over the years, used to create our own family. We have enjoyed flying in the club over the years and when we send to National races we are simply happy to time in - even though most of the time we don’t expect to get anywhere!

Our best performances from Millie-Ann (Our National Winner) have been: -

 * 147th Open 49th  section E - Fourgeres- old hens 2011

* 3th Club Le Mans

* 4th Club Poitiers

 Also GB07N16210 Chq Hen  a sister to Millie-Ann,

 * 15th Open – 13th section E BICC Guernsey 2011

 GB09N31185 – Chequer Cock

 * 1st Club , 2nd Fed and 9th Combine – Bergerac 2011

 GB02N40997 – Dark Chequer Cock

 * 1st club – 3rd Fed Kent Cosmo – Tours – 2004

* 1st Kent Amal  – Blandford 2006


 * 1st Club – 1st Kent Cosmo Fed – Blandford - 2003

 GB07N16212 Chequer Cock

 Flown Tarbes International 2010 - returning within three days. We were really happy to see him being the longest race we have ever timed in from.

 We cannot close this brief article without thanking a number of people – thanks to Mr Copper of Leicestershire for supplying us with some good pigeons and advice and all our friends and members of Dover Premier Pigeon Club. We would also like to thank our wives (Patricia and Lisa Coleman) who have had to put up with us disappearing into the gardens over the summer.

 There you have it then – an up to the minute report on how one partnership bred, conditioned and raced a National winning pigeon in 2012.

 Gareth Watkins