The final race in the BICC International race programme is traditionally from the French city of Perpignan situated close to the border of North East Spain.

Perpignan is a city, a commune and the capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. Perpignan was the capital of the former province and county of Roussillon and continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th and 14th centuries.
In 2013 Perpignan had 118,238 inhabitants (Perpignanais, Perpinyanés) in the city proper. The metropolitan area had a total population of 305,837 in 2010.
Though settlement in the area goes back to Roman times, the medieval town of Perpignan seems to have been founded around the beginning of the 10th century. Soon Perpignan became the capital of the counts of Roussillon. In 1172 Count Girard II bequeathed his lands to the Counts of Barcelona. Perpignan acquired the institutions of a partly self-governing commune in 1197.
The last major town in Languedoc before the Spanish border, it's easy to see why the flavour of Perpignan is essentially Catalan. There's a real mix of cultures in this corner of the region: Catalan, Romany and North African all co-exist in this sunny city of palm-lined squares. For the visitor, it's useful to know that this is not only one of the best places in the region to sample local food and wine but also a city with a relatively busy airport that has several handy air connections overseas. However, it does lack buzz - Barcelona is too close and too big a rival for little Perpignan to hit the big time.

Right so much for the location, history and culture of the town and surrounding region of the Perpignan race point, what of the 2014 Perpignan International race itself?

The UK entry for this 600+mile race had 111 pigeons entered by 36 members to compete on the International stage against a combined total of 17,962 pigeons from all over mainland Europe. The convoy was liberated at 5.45 am BST in perfect conditions with very little wind and blue skies. Pigeons began to be clocked in North West France on the coast near Caen and Le Havre in late afternoon and then there was a constant arrival of pigeons across the North of France and up into Belgium where the eventual International winner was clocked at the lofts of Eric Limburg in Brussegem at 6 .52 pm recording a velocity of 1183mpm.

The winner of the BICC was clocked on the day of liberation at the Dover lofts of Geoff and Clayton Preece with a flying time of 15 hours and one minute to record 1038 mpm and be the only bird clocked on the day in the UK - an outstanding performance by this 4 year old pigeon.
They also clocked a further six pigeons[ that's 7 home from 7 sent and all on the result] to finish at 6th,20th,30th,43rd,46th & 48th Open. Geoff gives the following information on the partners' latest triumph:- "1st Open BICC National Perpignan 581 miles with a three year old chequer widowhood cock 'Wiggins' - This is his second BICC National win from this International race point and he is only the second pigeon ever to have homed on the day from the Perpignan International.
The breeding is 50% line bred to Bill Woodall's Barcelona winner - 'Dragon's Boy' , 25% Stoffel- '270' and 'Marseille Star' lines and 25% Raymond Hermes.
'Wiggins' has now competed in 9 International races of more than 500 miles
In 2011 - he won 10th Open BICC National Perpignan (Yearling) - 581 miles
In 2012 - 10th Open BICC National Pau - 547 miles
39th Open BICC National St Vincent - 533 miles
1st Open BICC National Perpignan - 581 miles
In 2013 - 31st Open BICC National Pau
16th Open BICC National St. Vincent
45th Open BICC National Perpignan
In 2014 - 17th open BICC National Barcelona - 675 miles
1st Open BICC National Perpignan
6th Open BICC National Perpignan - Our second timer is a chequer widowhood cock - the nest mate to 'Wiggins'.
This is his 7th International race of more than 500 miles.
An injury in June suspended his 2014 season until St Vincent International.
20th Open BICC National Perpignan - Our third timer is the record setting 'Jack Jones', a chequer widowhood cock who, in 2010, set the record of being the first pigeon to have ever homed on the day from the Perpignan International.
Perpignan 2014 is his 11th International race of more than 500 miles.
Readers will note that these results are from long distance International races with liberations from the Western Atlantic side of France and the Eastern Mediterranean side. Many of the outstanding pigeons in mainland Europe do this every year.
We would like to pay a special tribute to the late Bill Woodall and extend our special thanks for the continued help, advice and encouragement from Dr Jeff Horn of Berwick - on Tweed."
All birds are flown on the widowhood system and fed the very best mixtures obtained from German suppliers Matador, or they were when I last interviewed Geoff a couple of years back when Wiggins won the 2012 Perpignan race.
A full loft report on Geoff and Clayton's set up and their team of outstanding International racers will appear shortly. Congratulations Geoff and Clayton on a truly excellent performance.

In the runners up position in both section and Open on 806 mpm is yet another partnership with consistent performances on the BICC International race circuit, Mr & Mrs Steve Rhodes of Aylesham in Kent. This is what Steve had to say about their latest long distance success:-
"Firstly congratulations to Geoff and Clayton on yet another outstanding performance.
We timed our 2 year old dark chequer cock at 8.25 am. He is bred from our own line of performing long distance race birds and was sent sitting 10 days on eggs.
In January he was involved in a hawk attack and after having many stitches we didn't think that he would survive the night.
He was then left to repair himself and so only had a couple of trainers with the Wingham lads and the last two races with EECC.
We also clocked a second bird at 09.32 am another 2yo blue cock sent sitting overdue on pot eggs he is a son of our double 2nd Open Marseille hen.
This being his first international race also only having a few trainers with the Wingham lads and two trips over the channel with the EECC.
We then timed a third bird at 09.51am this one was a 3yo chequer hen sent sitting 14 days on eggs bred for us by A & T Bury of Barham from his "eagle eye" blood.
She has been a good racer for us already gaining 46th open St Vincent.
A few weeks earlier plus 138th open Agen; 57th open Perpignan and prepared the same way as the other two cocks. A few Wingham 100 milers and two EECC races then St Vincent.
Finally, we now know what our friends the Buddles have felt all year".
I hope to complete a full loft profile of the Rhodes' in the next few weeks. Well done again Steve and family - I'm sure your time will come for that elusive 1st Open.

Neil Jones of Sandwich in Kent timed two good birds on the second morning to take 3rd & 10th Open vels 799 & 762 mpm. Neil clocked
a sister and a brother bred from a John Puddephatt of Ferring stock pair. The birds are flown on the natural system and both were sent feeding week old youngsters. Yet again we see the value of the weekly 100 milers with the Wingham club plus the use of the East of England Club each week. The 10th placed bird has flown Pau International four times and scored three times and has also flown Marseille.

Simon Knowles is in yet again at 4th Open vel 798.3 in a very close decimal point finish with good friends Kevin and Lee Buddle. Here Simon clocked 'Mrs Jones' a 6 year old hen of Krauth bloodlines. She has been 22nd open Agen 2014, 37th open Agen 2013, 5th open Perpignan 2013, 92nd open Agen 2012, 11th open Pepignan 2012, 44th open Agen 2011, 46th open Pau 2010 all in the B.I.C.C. Her Dam is the 41 Hen who has been 12th and 65th open Pau B.I.C.C., 81st open Dax B.I.C.C. and 110th open Bergerac B.I.C.C.
Simon's second on the clock is a 2 year old cock whose sire was 35th open Barcelona 2014. This second timer was luckily ok to go as he was badly hawked on a overseas preparation race earlier in the season. Third bird timed is a 3 year old cock who has been 94th open Pau 2013.
All are prepared pretty much the same 3 x Wingham F.C. 100 milers and 2 short E.E.C.C. channel races. That is except the first bird, who went to B.I.C.C. Agen 5 weeks earlier and then had 3 x 60 mile tosses.
All the Knowles Marathon pigeons are fed on Bucktons Irish Mix with added Peanuts and enjoy flying on natural Open Hole.

The ubiquitous Buddles are there once again at 5th Open just 0.3 mpm behind Simon Knowles' timer. Lee and Kevin timed their good pigeo "Spitfire" which is a previous winner of numerous prizes in BICC races for the partners. This is what Lee had to tell me:-
"Our first bird in the clock and Prov 5th Open Perpignan is a 6yr old cock we call "Spitfire". As with all our birds he has been raced on widowhood all season and fed versele laga superstar plus and versell laga best all round. His last race before Perpignan was BICC Pau International back in June where he was our 3rd bird back to the loft winning 17th Open BICC at 545 miles. He has been a very reliable race bird for us having previously won.
4th Nat BICC Agen Int 2012 481miles
15th Nat BICC Perpignan Int 2013 579miles
17th Nat BICC Pau Int 2014 545miles
38th Nat BICC Agen Int 2013 484miles
"Spitfire" is also a full brother to our good Barcelona cock "Pipi" 5th BICC Barcelona 2011, 9th BICC Barcelona 2014 & 10th BICC Barcelona 2013, He also flew BICC Barcelona in 2012 returning injured. His Sire is a Jim Biss pigeon that has won prizes from NFC Tarbes Twice and NFC Bordeaux also. the Biss lines of this cock is that of "Favori", "Navigator" & "Legacy".
His Dam is a Daughter of our foundation hen and mother of our loft "Buddy" when she was paired to a son of Brian Denney's "Dark Peron" This Brian Denney cock was the sire of B C Williams "Conquerour" 1st BICC Perpignan, 6th Int Hens, 43rd open International 1996."
Lee and Kevin clocked the remaining three birds of their four bird entry to finish at 29th, 38th & 45th Open. So 100% returns and all four on the result in an International race!!! Just like Geoff and Clayton Preece, that is some pigeon flying.
Geoff and Clayton Preece's second in the clock comes in for 6th Open vel 791mpm.
This one was closely followed by two birds to Dorin Melinte which look to be 1st & 2nd Centre section and 7th & 8th Open vels 772 & 769 mpm. The first bird in the clock for Dorin is the best bird in the loft as he has topped the Fed few times and he has also scored well in the NFC in 2013 This year he flew 2 inland races and Tours and Cholet before going to Tarbes with the NFC finishing at 41st section. On return he was re paired with Dorin's 1st hen from Barcelona International so that they would be nicely settled on eggs for Perpignan. He is a 100% Van Lint via Mr and Mrs Riley of Enfield. The 2nd pigeon in the clock from Perpignan is a half Jos Thone and half Van Lint also from Mr&Mrs Riley. This hen scored at Agen as a yearling and went to 2 or 3 inland races and 2 channel races i.e. Tours and Cholet before she went to Barcelona to take 4th sec 32nd Open BICC earlier this season.
This is how Dorin describes his methods:-
" I race my birds on roundabout with morning and evening exercise around the loft! I don't toss old birds before racing season starts! I feed Versele Laga super star plus with a bit of all around and only fat food on last 7 feeds before basketing ! Beans on first day on return from races and only pair best to best!!! I would like to thank the Riley family for the pigeons that he has given me and for the fact that he predicted that the parents of my first pigeon should breed good pigeons. And last I would like to thank Terry Haley for all his help on doing my clock on every International race! Finally, a big well done to my face book friends L&K Buddle !" Job done Dorin.
The Rhodes' second timer comes in next at 9th Open vel 763mpm closely followed by Neil Jones' second in the clock at 10th Open vel 762 mpm.

Jordan Brothers of Sturry clocked a Van Bruaene cock a g grandson of their Champion Little Wonder to take 10th East section 11th Open vel 761mpm. Little Wonder was a long distance ACE winning 1st & 3rd BICC Barcelona and 3rd Open BICC Perpignan during her racing career. The sire of this year's Perpignan timer was obtained from Graham Moss and bred from the very best of the old A.H. Bennett Kings Cup winning VanBruaenes. The 11th Open winner has had a few short channel races with the EECC this year and featured on the Pau International result at 20th Open before being set up for Perpignan sitting six day old eggs.

Mark Gilbert comes in at 3rd Centre section 12th Open vel757 mpm....

The Rhodes family's third timer takes 13th Open vel 751 mpm.

Dickie and son Steve Pearmain of Wickford in Essex have an enviable record in BICC International races and at Perpignan they continued their good run timing three birds on the winning day for 14th,17th & 19th Open.
This is what Steve had to tell me about their timers:-
"We timed 3 from 4 and our 1st hen was here at 11am winning 14th open , she was on the night at Agen4 weeks ago flying 15hrs 37 mins. She also flew a decent race at St Vincent in 2013. Since returning from Agen she has been on open hole and sent on the nest.
Our second hen was Mary from Donegal who won Perpignan BICC in 2013. Mary's other wins include 2nd open BICC Perpignan 2012. It looks as if she is 17th open Perpignan this year. That's her 8th time in the top 34 of the BICC open including twice on the night from Pau 575 miles and once on the night from St Vincent 558 miles. She was also sent on the nest.
Our third hen that looks to be 19th open was also at Agen this year where she was timed at 6 20am the next morning. She was 4th open BICC St Vincent in 2013 and a sister to this hen won 23rd open in the Irish Kings Cup this year winning a merit award for E Murtagh and sons of County Armagh."

Jackie Harris and daughter of Dagenham also timed three good birds to take 15th,18th & 23rd Open. This is what Jackie had to say about his timers this year.
"The three pigeons I timed were the same three pigeons I timed last year in the same order when they were 8th ,12th,& 23rd.This year they are 15th,18th,&23rd.
My First pigeon had a couple of 100 miles tosses with the local club followed by three channel races Carentan, Poitiers and Agen 13hrs on win,. winning 27th open 13th sect. He was then just left to fly round home before Perpignan. His sire was bought from the BBC stud and is a grandson of three Spanish diploma winners. Dam was bred by J Shepherd who was also 18th Open 12th Section Perpignan. My second pigeon had 2 x100 miles tosses with the local club, three channel races Alencon, Tours and Poitiers on 16th June, then left to fly around home before Perpignan. She is a half sister to 2nd Open Perpignan, 68th open Tarbes.81st open Bergerac. She is of the J Biss, Keynon, Southwell, Aarden lines - what you might call a dolly mixture.
My third Pigeon had the same preparation as my second pigeon. She is a Daughter of 4th Open Pau LSECC.25th Open Pau,,40th Open Barcelona. J Biss, Jan Aarden lines.
As I said last year enjoy it when you can 'cause it is not the end of the world if you don't time in."

Ted Ivory of Sittingbourne clocked a five year old cock on 749 mpm to take 13th East section 16th Open. This one is of Dutch decent through Jacobs Brothers and A P Overwater lines. He has had three International races this season, Pau, Agen and Perpignan and was sent to Perpignan sitting just a couple of days on eggs.

The positions of 17th,18th, 19th & 20th Open were taken by subsequent timers of Harris & Daughter, Pearmain & son and Preece and then we come to the winner of the west section which also takes 21st Open vel 720 mpm.
This one was clocked at the Dorset loft of John Halstead. John has an excellent record in long distance Nationals since his move down to the West Country from his native Midlands. At Perpignan John clocked his single entry, a 3 yr old dark chequer cock of the Jim Biss x Southwell lines named Nyland Platinum. As a young bird this same cock flew in excess of 9 hours from the High Littleton Tours race and won the Platinum ring prize of £1400 incorporated in the race. His sire is one of the lofts star breeders 'Big Bucks' who usually manages to produce some excellent offspring particularly as young birds. He in turn is direct from Nyland Ashley who is now the foundation breeder of the long distance line, and who himself won 2nd Open BICC Barcelona 697 miles in 2008. Ashley's half brother 'Cassius' was also 2nd Open BICC Barcelona in 2011 and 1st Section 13th Open from BICC Perpignan the same year. These 2 cocks are both grandsons of the Jim Biss cock Turban who scored 2nd Open Pau and 5th Open Perpignan. Dam of Platinum is '36' who was 6th Open in the 2010 HLFC Tours race and is the daughter of a Jimmy Shepherd Southwell (52057) mated with a Biss hen on loan from Doug Gatland from the Biss 'Unsaid' bloodlines.
Platinum has been raced on widowhood, but for this final race was allowed with his hen from the Wednesday before basketing, and has been exercised twice each day since then with the young birds. As with all the widowhood team he has been fed on Hormoform, Golden Boost, VL Super Widowhood and VL Champion Plus. Platinum was also hand fed 12 redskin peanuts per day for the final 10 days. His previous race was from the NFC Tarbes and he homed at 8:27pm on the winning day but an hour after the ETS clock was printed off so he missed the NFC result. However, he was in excellent condition, extremely clean, bright and lively - so was prepared for Perpignan. This cock will now be aimed at Barcelona in 2015.

Second west section is a partnership who work tirelessly for the sport - Gordon and June Mears of Caerleon. The Mears clocked the same Braakhuis dark chequer cock, now three years old, which featured on the 2013 Perpignan BICC result at 56th Open. He was at the Pau International in June and was away for 6 days but soon recovered. Sent to Perpignan feeding a three day old young bird he looks to be at 31st Open on this year's result.

Third west section is the ever present Padfields of Cwmtillery. At Perpignan Dave and Vince clocked a three year old Dark Chequer Cock.
Early season this cock was raced on the round about system once he had finished rearing a pair of youngsters. Whilst on roundabout he had 3 or 4 inland races followed by a couple of races from France i.e. Carentan and Cholet. He was then sent to AGEN with the BICC International finishing at 9th West section and 68th Open. He was re - paired when the Tarbes NFC birds were basketted in early July and was sent to this race on a small youngster.
His G/sire on the Sire's side was 5th Open WSRN Tarbes and his G\Dam on the Sire's side is the good hen "817".
This year 817 was sent to the Pau International with the BICC and she came to be 65th open 18th Section. She was then sent to Narbonne on hatching eggs and came back to a small youngster finishing at 15th Open and 1st West section. "817" has put up a number of good performance and in 2011 she was 2nd Open 1st Sect WSRNFC Tarbes winning £200 607 miles also 34th Open 6th Sect Tarbes NFC.
Vince and Dave have asked me to congratulate both John Halstead on topping the west section and also Gordon and June Mears in second spot as they are two of the hardest workers in the sport.

And finally to close this report a reminder for fanciers regarding the proposed Pigeon Get Together/Moot in conjunction with the Epsom show on 31st October. This function is being organised on behalf of the BICC by Russell Bradford, Mark Gilbert and Tom Firmager among others.Tickets £10.00 per head and this will include choice of hot food, in a superb venue. The Friday evening, 31st of October will see a panel and of Guest Speakers to include Hugo Battenburg (Ace Fancier from Holland); Bernard Deweerdt (Top Breeder and Distance Fancier from Belgium); Geoff Cooper and Mark Gilbert, (Both International Winners), and still to confirm a world class Veterinary.
There will be a raffle and one of many fantastic raffle prizes will include a Personal Tour of Mark Gilbert's Loft with a pair of Young Birds thrown in. During the evening a very small but hugely important sale of quality pigeons will take place, to include a Grandchild kindly gifted to the club by Geoff & Catherine Cooper that has Two International winners in the Pedigree.
Tickets are limited to 200 places and will be sold on a first come; first sold basis, so don't be disappointed. Send a cheque now to the Treasurer Russell Bradford made payable to the BICC. On Saturday 1st November an auction sale of pigeons donated by some of the best fanciers in the UK will take place and this should draw plenty of fanciers who are eager to perform on the International stage .

That's your lot for Old Birds. A short break now until the two young bird and Old cock/Hen races in late August. I'm off for a well earned break in Spain.
Gareth Watkins

Geoff-&-Clayton Preace 1st Open Perpignan only bird on day into the UK

Preece & sons 1st Open Perpignan

Neil Jones 3rd & 10th Open Perpignan with Grand daughter Remi

Simon Knowles & Alan Annis[or is that Gareth Hale of Hale & Pace] Simon was 4th Open Perpignan

Kevin-&-Lee-Buddle 1stBICC-Narbonne & 5th Open BICC perpignan

Dorin & son Denis Melinte 7th & 8th Open Perpignan

Jordan Brothers 11th Open BICC Perpignan20140803_112452

John Halstead withNylandPlatinum 1st west section 21st Open BICC Perpignan

Mr & Mrs Rhodes Perpignan