PIGEON COUP . . . homing pigeon enthusiast John Willacy with his bird Cloggie’s Girl, which won the Ancenis Race this month to become his first ever national winner, and the 38th ever national winner from Annan
John Willacy of Waterfoot Road won the Ancenis Race with his three-year-old Blue Pied Hen, Cloggie’s Girl, marking the 38th national winner to come from Annan.
The 73-year-old said: “It’s a lifetime ambition, and I’ve had them for 57 to 58 years.
“And what makes it better is that it’s the longest race that they fly.”
The Ancenis Race is a 534-mile challenge, which saw the birds liberated in western France at 7.15 am on July 4. Cloggie’s Girl was back home in Annan at 7.45 pm — just over 12 hours later.
John received official word on the Wednesday that he had won the national, and said: “I was over the moon. I’ve been on a high since then.”
A book chronicling winners from the Scottish National Flying Club since 1900 puts one of the first winners from Annan as John Kilpatrick in 1937.
And revealing a connection to Kilpatrick from his early in the sport, John Willacy said: “The Thomson brothers were great fanciers, just two gardens away from me. They’re dead now.
“They had a really good pigeon and they named it after me. He was a really exceptional pigeon and scored numerous years at the national and his offsprings all over the country have bred winners.
“And that was a John Kilpatrick pigeon. He was an absolute master at it.”
John Willacy has paid tribute to his own winning pigeon, bred from renowned long-distance pigeons bought from Wales. And he now intends to breed from Cloggie’s Girl, who shares his own nickname.
John said: “She was sitting on eggs 16 days. They hatch at 19, so that must have made
her really keen to get home.”
A second bird had yet to return this week, with quite a few missing.
John has meanwhile noted the success of another pigeon, Cloggie’s Boy, who has placed
well at Alencon, ‘the derby of pigeon racing’, for the last three years, winning about
However, John is sad to see a decline in membership of homing pigeon clubs.
Looking at the Annan club, he said: “It used to be we had 50-odd members. Now we’re
down to about 18. It’s like a lot of the clubs — they’re dying away from just losing the