With mother nature again dictating in her usual unpredictable way the unsettled conditions that swept the country over the weekend of the race meant that convoyer Darren Shepherd had to call two holdovers for the Saturday and Sunday with an eventual liberation on Monday 17th July at 8:45 in to a West, North West wind. Despite lots of hit and miss showers moving across the country on the day, the wind was much kinder and the heavy band of rain that had dominated much of Scotland had dissipated. This was deemed to be the best day out of the week for liberation with a return to much heavier downpours and strong winds predicted by the weather stations for the rest of the week. As the front runners began to drop home to their lofts and times on the clocks where called in, it was in a slow steady flow, with the first-place spot being very close between section ‘C’ Pat and Dave Evans and section ‘F’ Stephen and Amanda Newnham with the eventual verification falling favourable for the Evans loft. On reviewing the past results of this winning partnership, I knew the difficult thing for me here would actually be finding something new to write about this husband and wife super team. Over the years they have graced the pages of the NRCC handbook and have been written about on multiple occasions for the respective pigeon papers, on Elimar and Pipa having previously won the NRCC from various race points on multiple occasions. Additionally, they have also stamped their mark on countless section wins adding to their success however, this latest Thurso win is not just another notch on the loft door that leads to the winner’s enclosure of the Evans team of pigeons, this latest win clearly means just as much to Dave and Pat as their first win. The broad smiles and warm welcome that greeted me on my arrival bear witness to how much of a thrill it was to see their birds’ home and how proud they are to see the coveted first place spot belong to them. Neither Dave or Pat are from a pigeon fancying background, although Dave did keep pigeons as a lad in a small loft made out of old tea chests and orange boxes, it wasn’t until they moved to the current address in 1980 that interest in the sport grew and in 1982 the Evans back garden saw the actual start of pigeon racing. Over the years their time and effort dedicated to the sport has clearly paid off and their impressive collection of results can only be attributed to the hours put in by both Dave and Pat, from the initial pairing up and breeding of the stock birds, right the way through to the conditioning and preparation of the race team it is a shared journey that both clearly enjoy being a part of. I probe a bit deeper and ask about how the birds are introduced into the racing program and Dave tells me that once the babies have been weaned and moved across and are just starting to roam they are crated up. After being left in the crates for a little while they are then taken across the road to the school carpark and released as a batch. They are then moved up the road starting with two, one-mile training tosses which then gradually increase until eventually they are trained up from Laceby, just over 23 miles. I am also told that the birds are trained from both sides of the Lincolnshire Wolds so, should the wind be in either the East or West, the birds will be familiar with the terrain and get home. This year, the old birds where raced on the natural system with twice weekly training, throughout the race programme, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They are fed a heavier mix at the start of the week then as the week progresses towards race day, the feed is lightened up. Dave and Pat feed Mariman’s with the only additive being a bit of homemade garlic oil on the corn. The birds are communal fed twice daily, half feed in the morning after training/exercising out and again in the afternoon after being let out for a second stretch. As I am given a tour of the lofts I am shown how each loft accommodates the needs of the birds and how the structure of the loft and the system Dave and Pat fly works for them. A well-oiled machine that has no big secret to it just dedication, a love of the birds and a passion for the sport itself. There isn’t a big mixture of pigeons in Dave and Pats loft with most of the stock housing lines bred down from Frank Tasker and Guy Evraert from Belgium. Dave also tells me that he isn’t afraid to send winning pigeons back to races as this is the only way to build a winning team, winners breed winners! The winning Thurso cock bird is bred down from these lines, as is the nest mate who was the second pigeon to arrive home to take seventh open on the day. When asked what’s next for this fantastic loft, Dave tells me ‘Lerwick.’ Yet to take first position this is the motivation for both the husband and wife team and I have no doubt it will happen for them one day. An absolute privilege to be welcomed into both their home and loft and I sincerely hope it won’t be the first and last time! Dave and Pat would like to acknowledge the help and advice they received from Frank Tasker and from Richard Quibell, of Horncastle.