BHW Show of the Year
“This show is named Show of the Year. It is an ambitious title, but then ambition is for the young and this show is very young. We have the finest hall in the country for such a show, we now have experience and an organisation to put into operation and we still have the same spirit of dedication amongst our helpers. We believe that we now have a foundation on which can build that will make this show the best anywhere at any time.” Thus were the words spoken at the official opening of the very first British Homing World Show of the Year in 1973.
The British Homing World Show of the Year was conceived back in 1972 when the then RPRA General Manager, Major Len Lewis, came up with the idea of a national pigeon show. With the assistance of fanciers in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire a show was put on at the Doncaster Racecourse complex. It was decided at the time that if any profit was made it would be given to charity. One of the stewards had a granddaughter who suffered from spina bifida and so, after the first show, a donation was made to the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (ASBAH), now referred to as SHINE. The show continued at Doncaster until 1977 when the Federation Colombophile Internationale asked the RPRA to host the International Olympiad. The size of the show meant that the committee had to find a larger venue and so the show moved to the Winter Gardens at Blackpool where it has remained.
During its history the Show has been the home to national fancy pigeon shows, developed the concept of the Supreme Champion, a competition to judge the best pigeons from the biggest shows in the UK and Ireland, hosted two Olympiads, presented the largest display of Dickin Medals ever brought together in one venue, attracted up to 30,000 visitors to Blackpool from all over the world, and been generally recognised as the largest event of its kind in Europe. It has, through the years, brought significant positive publicity for pigeon racing, having been featured regularly on radio and television, including live broadcasts, and attracted international, national and local press.
The team running the Show are very special: a number of stewards and committee members were at the first Show, an even greater number are of the same family as those who organised the first show, some being the fourth generation associated with the event.
In 2012 the show celebrated its 40th anniversary, and in 2017 its 40th year in Blackpool, when the streets around the Winter Gardens were adorned with Show banners. The famous Blackpool Tower was lit up in purple to celebrate the event and a special Show of the Year flag flown on the flagpole at its top for the weekend.
During the years it has never lost sight of the charitable foundation upon which the show was built. During the years, pigeon fanciers have donated almost £3,000,000 to charitable causes through the show. We still maintain our connection with ASBA / SHINE, and our other regular recipients are British Pigeon Fanciers Medical Research, Age UK, St John Ambulance and The British Heart Foundation. Alongside these we have made ad hoc contributions to the Confederation’s Raptor Alliance and to the RPRA Young Fanciers project, and supported many charities put forward by our own members. We have financed mini buses, helped to send children for life-saving operations abroad, supported hospices and air ambulances, as well as a multitude of individual projects throughout the United Kingdom.
Due to the restrictions placed on gatherings during the early part of 2021, the physical show had to be cancelled. This was, of course, a major setback. However, undaunted, the committee decided they would create a web page and through that hold a virtual show. The show constituted virtual trade stands, a roll of honour, a charity auction as well as 10 show classes, with competitors invited to submit a photograph of their pigeon which were judged by a group of internationally renowned fanciers. As well as class winners, Best In Show and Best Opposite Category were also judged.
The 2022 Show will revert to a physical show, celebrating 50 years of the Show of the Year and marking those who in 1973 had the foresight to make it possible: Walter Law, Roy Ryalls, Eric Chapman, Tom Martinson, Les Henshaw, John Mitchell, Fred Cook, Major Len Lewis and Ron Trippett.
The Show has become the focus of pigeon racing in the winter months, providing a social occasion for families, a weekend to look forward to for meeting old friends and making new ones, a challenge to showmen and an opportunity for racing men, but – most of all – a weekend where we can immerse ourselves in everything pigeon!
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