At 5.45 am on 14th June 2013 342 British pigeons entered by 101 members of the BICC were liberated to contest the 2013 Pau International race competing against 8,527 pigeons entered by the cream of continental fanciers from all over Europe. Although the weather conditions throughout the race route were perfect, with clear skies and a light north easterly breeze giving the convoy a slight "nudge" up the western coast of France, little did we imagine what a terrific success it would be for the UK entry.
By the end of the first day of the race UK fanciers had clocked pigeons to take 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th,16th, 24th,34th,63rd & 68th Open International. A truly remarkable set of performances put up by the seven fanciers concerned.
The fanciers involved were as follows:- Geoff and Catherine Cooper whose birds finished at 1st, 8th & 16th Open International, followed by Darren and father Des Mc Fadden at 2nd Open with Mark Gilbert in at 3rd &34th Open International. Colin Draper of Yalding timed for 4th Open with Derek Doyle's timer taking 24th Open and the ever present David Hales of Hockley in at 63rd Open. Next we come to the pigeon flying to the most westerly location in the International convoy - this game pigeon was entered by none other than Terry and Carol Gardner of Portskewett in Wales and finished at 68th Open International.

The presentation to the Pau International prize winners took place in Brussels on Remembrance weekend 9th November and a very happy group of BICC members attended. The following is BICC President, John Tyerman's report on the festivities:-

"BICC Officials were ecstatic when we received the unbelievable news that our members had taken the first four open positions in the highly prestigious 2013, Pau International flying against many thousands of pigeons from the cream of European lofts. This outstanding feat had never previously been accomplished and immediately ensured that the BICC and winning members were very firmly placed on the worldwide International racing pigeon map.

The International winners were our top fanciers Geoff and Catherine Cooper from Peasdown St John, followed by Des and Darren McFadden from Cranleigh, Surrey who were 2nd open, then our International superstar Mark Gilbert who took 3rd open. The fourth prize was won by Colin Draper.
In the days immediately following the race, all of the winners were quite overwhelmed with congratulations and offers to purchase the successful pigeons coming from all over the world. I am pleased to say that all of the winning birds have remained with their UK owners, despite very large monetary offers.

The presentation evening for this highly prestigious event was held in Brussels on Saturday, 9th November, 2013, and Geoff and Catherine Cooper, Darren, and his lovely wife, Jo McFadden along with BICC Secretary Carol Francis had made the trip using the 'Eurostar'. BICC President John Tyerman and his wife Linda were also in attendance and had taken good friend Ian Crammond with them as he was keen to attend the International Presentation. The RPRA was also represented by President David Higgins and his wife along with Vice President Richard Carlton and his good lady.
The venue was a Sports Centre on the outskirts of the City that was beautifully laid out by a firm of professional caterers and the food and service was worthy of 5 stars. Around 350 people were in attendance and on arrival the British party were individually introduced and welcomed by the ex -President's wife and family. Sadly the President of La Colombe Joyeuse, Mr. Danny Van Bael had died in July, and his wife and family bravely decided to continue running the presentation. He was by all accounts a man of great character and an outstanding President who will be sadly missed - a very moving tribute was paid to him by his family and friends.

As is usual with these presentations they go on for several hours, with some trophies being presented between the various food courses. When it came to the winners presentation, and the playing of our 'National Anthem', there was a standing ovation for the Cooper's and Geoff was visibly moved when he held the 'prestigious bull horns' aloft to massive applause. Darren and his wife Jo received an equally enthusiastic reception when they went to collect their 'haul' of trophies for being 2nd Open but sadly his Dad and racing partner Des McFadden, was too ill to attend. I know he is justifiably proud of Darren's performances in recent times. All in all the British lifted a massive haul of superb trophies and it was fortunate that the President had driven to Brussels and had a car there to take them all home safely to the UK.
On behalf of the RPRA, President David Higgins made a surprise presentation to Geoff and Catherine - a gift of a beautiful clock to commemorate their Pau performance. The BICC would like to thank the RPRA for this gesture. As is usual the ladies all received individual gifts from the La Colombe Joyeusse.

Our party were staying in the Van Der Valk Hotel over the weekend where we spent a very pleasant Saturday evening in the bar reflecting on a memorable day. We had a very special weekend thanks to the courtesy and kindness of the Officials of La Colombe Joyeusse who made us all very welcome. On behalf of the BICC our sincere and special thanks go to Mrs. Van Bael, her lovely daughter and son in law Luc - it was indeed a weekend to remember."

So it seems that the British pigeons are now getting the recognition they deserve from our Continental cousins. Top fanciers wherever they originate, appreciate top class performances, wherever they are achieved, and that's the beauty of racing on the International stage. Congratulations one and all from this Press Officer. I am immensely proud and honoured to be associated with you all.
Gareth Watkins

1st & 2nd Open Pau International Geoff & Catherine Cooper and Darran & Jo McFadden

1st Open International Pau Geoff & Catherine Cooper

Carol Francis BICC secy along with Catherine Cooper, Geoff Cooper and John and Linda Tyerman

Darran Jo Mc Fadden


John Tyerman Ian Crammond

UK trophies won in the Pau International race