On a lovely summer's day in mid August the "great and the good" of the British pigeon racing fraternity made their way from all over England and Wales to the small Somerset village of Peasedown St John and the home of Geoff and Catherine Cooper. This gathering was a gesture to celebrate the outstanding performance of UK fanciers and BICC members in particular, in the Pau International race flown on Friday 14th June 2013 when BICC members took the FIRST FOUR Open positions in the INTERNATIONAL against a field of  8,576 hand picked pigeons from the best lofts in Europe.
Perhaps the following passage, taken from my report on the race ,will give readers a reminder of the events surrounding the race itself.
"The first International race of the season for members of the BICC took place from Pau in the foothills of the Pyrennes on schedule on Friday 14th June. The BICC entry was 313 pigeons entered by 92 to compete against each other for the first UK pigeon home in this prestigious race and 8,527 other pigeons entered by the best fanciers throughout mainland Europe. The weather forecasts throughout the week, predicted good weather at the race point in south west France with a light north easterly breeze cooling the birds as they raced north along the length of the country. As it transpired, the wind in south west France at time of liberation i.e. 5.45 am[BST] was reported as light northerly changing to east north east around the Bordeaux area and south, south east at Angers with a southerly breeze helping the birds on once they reached the French coast. The BBC shipping forecast gave south westerly force 4/5 in the channel early in the day turning to southerly force 5/6 later on. The race was on and with the hope that the British contingent would have a better than evens chance of success given the easterly influence in the wind direction in the early part of the race.
The race turned out to be an absolute triumph for the small British contingent as not only was the overall International winner clocked in the UK but British pigeons took the following positions in the Open result:-
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th,16th, 24th,34th,63rd & 68th. A truly remarkable set of performances put up by the seven fanciers concerned. Congratulations to you one and all - you have made the British fancy extremely proud. The seven British fanciers who enjoyed great success that day were:-
Geoff & Catherine Cooper.
Darren McFadden.
Mark Gilbert.
Colin Draper.
Derek Doyle.
David Hales.
Mr & Mrs Terry Gardner.

So much for the race, let's get back to the celebratory gathering at the Cooper's home, that took place some two months after the race itself was flown. Those present amounted to 63 fanciers along with family and friends. The weather on the day was marvellous, in great contrast to the previous day when high winds and heavy rain prevailed.

Present on the Sunday, were several local fanciers and their wives, some of whom help with the BICC marking  for example, Terry Preddy  and Tony Barressi. A few had travelled from continental Europe to be present including Henk DeWeerd and Thomas Gyselbrecht plus Pieter Oberholster,  David Coward Talbot and Holly from the DeWeerd veterinary clinic in Colchester. Gordon Clark and Lee Percival, travelled all the way down from Hartlepool in the North East to join the celebrations.
It was good to see the BICC treasurer Russell Bradford and his wife Clare in attendance and Russell said a few words on behalf of the BICC, congratulating Geoff and Catherine, along with Darran McFadden and Mark Gilbert on their Pau International performances.  John Clements, a long time supporter of International racing made the journey down from Stockport.  Carol Francis the BICC secretary was also there.  Albi Deacon, John Tyerman  and Mike Bunney sent their apologies as they were unable to attend the party As did yours truly who was unable to get a lift over to the West Country. However, two men of Gwent, namely  Henry Preece and Mark Sparey  from Abertillery flew the flag for the Welsh fanciers, several of whom could not attend due to racing being held over from Saturday.
Bill Harris and his wife Julie were there. Bill an ex President of the NFC, was instrumental in getting the NFC to race the Dax International in 2003 which was won by local legend Brian Sheppard and his pigeon aptly named "The Legend".
BICC photographer Chris Sutton and his wife Denise were travelled down from their home in Leicestershire to attend the party.  Chris presented Geoff and Catherine with a superb framed photo of their two International winners, Farmer George (1st Bordeaux International 2011) and Wollongong (1st Open Pau International 2013).
Ian Crammond and Nigel Langstaff enjoyed chatting with Roger Lowe ,Pete Wilcox, Mark Gilbert and Henk DeWeerd.
A long time friend of Geoff and Catherine's, namely John Wright from Hull was there, catching up with many friends.
 Alen Gibb the Secretary of the West of England Combine , along with his better half Val were there with Stan Dangerfield, both hard workers for the sport, and Roger Phillips flew in from Guernsey. Roger keeps many fanciers up to date with weather forecasts from Guernsey.
Tony Miesnner and his wife Karly were present with Karly only having three weeks to go before her baby was due.  However, after the excitement of the party, the following Saturday in fact, Lily May Miessner was born.

It was good to see everyone enjoying the food and drink in the sunshine, Geoff and Catherine's daughter Stacey and her husband Gary did an excellent job running the bar and their sons Daryl and Chris were at hand to do the cooking. A real family effort by the Cooper clan.  

The party proved to be a terrific success and an opportunity for friends and fanciers from far and wide to get together and enjoy a special moment in the history of British pigeon racing - 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th International Pau. Unfortunately,  Colin Draper who was 4th Int. Pau and others who were in the BICC top ten were invited but couldn't make it.

I'm sure all present and also those who were unable to make it "on the day" so to speak, would like to thank Geoff and Catherine for organising such a pleasant function to honour those seven fanciers who tasted success at the highest level possible in the sport on that great day in June.

Gareth Watkins

Geoff & Catherine-Cooper

1st 2nd 3rd Pau Int

Graham Clift & John Staddon

Local fanciers and Stacey Catherine Cooper's daughter

L-R Eileen & Peter Wilcox Ian Crammond Stuart Sheffield Bill & Julie Harris

Mark Dorrington & Stan Dangerfield at the Pau International Garden Party

R to L Jean Brooks daughter of the late Trosky Brooks Sally Ann Brooks wife of Rob Brooks and daughter Emily Brooks

Some happy revellers at the Pau International winners Garden Party Hosted by Geoff and Catherine Cooper

Stan Dangerfield & Henry Preece