An introduction from Ian Bellamy; Just a few words for the Dunbar YB & OH race.
There were 1077 YB birds entered by 92 members for the 2023 NRCC Dunbar race. The race is sponsored by the NRCC to the tune of £500 to the race winner, this prize money is generated by the sale of 2023 NRCC ‘X’ rings. It was difficult day for me as our website is currently down so I was not able to do a ‘live’ provisional result. What I did instead was to put the first 20 verifications in order of velocity on the NRCC Futurity site which I then tried to update every hour. To make matters more difficult the NRCC also had an Old Hens race which were liberated 30 minutes after the main convoy, this I had to incorporate into the main race marking the birds which were Old Hens. Verifications kept coming in well into the second day and congratulations to go to Matt Mason of Section B who timed in the winner on a difficult day to take 1st Open 1st Section B with a provisional velocity of 1082 ypm. There were several worthy performances on the day but my special mention goes to Teddy Gunn of Section I whose game bird will take 2nd Open provisional doing a velocity of 1060 and flying almost 90 miles further. The Old Hens race were a little faster than the Young Birds and taking pole position in this race is Tom Burkill of Norwich whose bird recorded a provisional velocity of 1130 ypm and flying 271 miles. Congratulations Tom. Moving on now to the winners report for Matthew Mason: The penultimate Trophy race on the NRCC race card saw section C’s Matthew Mason time his winning bird in to take first Open Dunbar young bird on Sunday, September 17th 2023 and I couldn’t have been more pleased to congratulate him when I visited on Monday the 18th to verify his winner. After some very poor weather forecasts across the country for Saturday 16th, the decision was taken by the committee to hold the birds over and after and extra 24 hours of patient waiting at the racepoint, a gap in the weather allowed convoyeurs, Darren and Merv, to liberated the birds at 9:45 in an East, South East wind and when the birds began to drop home to their lofts, Matthew Masons clock was the first to chime in the winning time. Previously racing South Road, this is Matthews first ever year racing on the North Road and joining the NRCC making his win against the more seasoned NRCC North Road flyers, extra impressive! In addition to this, I could not ignore the set up Matthew has either and on following him round to his back garden, I expected to see a loft running along the rear fence but was floored to see a row of kit boxes, those of which are normally favoured by rollers and tiplers, making his win even more remarkable! After doing the verification for Matthew I took the opportunity to take notes for his winners report and pick his grey matter a little to find out just how he had managed to make such a fast impact in such a short space of time as not only has he taken the top slot for the NRCC Dunbar, he has also stamped his mark on the scorboard of his club and the Peterborough Fed. His first young bird season has seen him win all bar one club race, with numerous Peterborough fed positions, including two x 1st and taking the first 3 positions in his section seven weeks on the bounce so, the grey matter was definitely going to get a work out to find the secret of this successful set of kit boxes! Ironically, when I bumped into Matthew at Wyberton marking station we had a brief chat about the Dunbar race and he told me then that he felt really confident and that his team of 18 birds had been buzzing and boy, he was not wrong. As well as winning the race, he had 16 out of the 18 return on the day and all in quick succession. The interest in racing pigeons was ignigted for Matthew when at just 7 years old after he picked up a flown out racer in the street and took it home to look after. His love of pigeons grew from there, first with fantails and then at just 13 years of age, Matthew and older brother Anthony joined forces, got themselves a loft set up in an allotment, and moved into the sport of racing South road joining the Meadowhall HS in the Sheffield and District Federation. Matthew gives credit to fellow fancier Brian Lawton for his mentorship in those early days and to his Dad, Mr Mason senior, for training the young brothers pigeons and, although it was only for a short three year stint before changing clubs, it wasn’t without some success. From 1991 – 1998 Wadsley Bridge FC became the brothers new club, in the Sheffield West federation, and posed much more of a challenge for the Masons with a good sixty plus members jockeying weekly for positions on the results sheet with their pigeons however, the Mason brothers made their prescence known and with Matthew still at the tender age of 15 had topped the fed 3 times with wins from across the channel in France taking 1st place from Sartilly and two further 1st places from Rennes with the same pigeon. Matthew even remembers the ring number and reels it off to me, telling me it was a blue Beusschaert (Joe Smith) x Leen Boers (Barry Fiddler) cock bird. In addition to this, they also raced in the Hillsborough midweek club winning the young bird averages. After a number of problems on the alotments with thefts and break-ins, the Masons relocated their lofts to their mums back garden where they once again joined the the Meadowhall HS where they continued to fly succesfully for a further 3 years up until 2001 when Matthew met his lovely wife Claire and the descision was made to put pigeon racing on hold for a bit and concentrate on family life. The family moved up to Conningsby in 2006 but it wasn’t until 2018 when Matthew started up racing again independantly, in the Lincolnshire South Road Federation, with a small team of 14 pigeons winning numerouse top placed positions including 1st and 2nd fed against 5,500 birds as well as the young bird section averages in the Horncastle FC. Unfortunaltly, due to a diagnosis of pigeon lung, racing was cut short and after just one season and Matthew reluctantly had to close the loft doors. In 2023, after a five year break, Matthews initial pigeon lung was found to be a misdiagnosis and was in fact an allergy to his skin enabling him to once again open the loft doors and get back into the sport. With a renewed determination and motivation, he set his sights on North Road racing and joined the Boston and District FC and NRCC for the 2023 season and the rest, as we say, is history. The winning NRCC Dunbar young bird was gifted to a charity fundraiser by well know flyer, Bill Foulstone of Woodseats, Sheffield who’s bloodlines can be traced back to Section ‘K’ winners and which Matthew bought for the princely sum of £15! Definitely money well spent I’d say!! This little chequer cock has already more than earned his corn after racing all ten races on the programme so far and notching up 2 x 1st and 2 x 2nd club, 4 section positions and 2 fed positions and who now takes ownership of the coveted 1st Open NRCC Young Bird Dunbar title to add to his already impressive list of achievments. Matthew races a very small team of pigeons on a 50/50 split with half on the darkness system and half raced natural. The winner is a darkness pigeon and incredibly territorial over his box and for motivation leading up to the race, was paired to two hens, while one sat, he would be flying out with the other trying to drive her to nest. Ironically, prior to this, Matthew has never raced on the darkness system. The feeding system for the pigeons consists of maples for muscle building when being reared and then once the birds have been moved over from the nest and are just starting to flit about around outside the loft, they are fed 100% barley. There is a strict regime for racing which consists of Gerry Plus at the start of the week followed by superstar then diet by the time it comes around to basketing for the race. This does vary according to the weather conditions and from race point to race point. Upon their return from a race the pigeons a given maples and sunflower hearts and as the distance increases then Matthew introduces some additional fats and proteins into the mix. Prior to racing the birds are trained from a starting point of 6 miles up to a distance of 38 miles with Grimsby being the furthest point. In addition to their training, the birds are let out for an hour exercise in the morning and again in the evening. When I asked Matthew what his next goal was he said there two. One would be to get his name on the NRCC’s Kings Cup, Lerwick trophy and the second would be to race both North and South with the same team of pigeons in the National races. This is definitely a space to watch with interest and with the impact Matthew Mason has made so far on the score sheet I would not think it unachievable. Before finishing up, Matthew wanted to ensure the following people were recognised for their advice, help and support; Ronnie Evans – UNC, Alwyn Paddy form Doncaster, Frank Sheader from Scarborough, Albi Deacon from Portsmouth, Tony Cowan from Southampton, Heath Archibald from Dover, Mark Sherwood from Sheffield, Russ Skinner, Brian Garnham and Gary Hoyles from Boston and Paul and Jayne Newbold from Wainfleet. Matthew also wanted to say thank you to his wife Claire for all of her support, help and encouragement. I would like to thank both Matthew and Claire for their hospitality and lovely cake! All the best for your future racing, it was an absolute pleasure to visit and you and pick those grey cells and congratulations also for winning in your first season racing in the NRCC. The old hens’ winner, Tom Burkill, and all section winners’ reports will follow at a later date. The NRCC’s day of champions will take place on Saturday, November 25th at Springfield’s, Spalding