RP Editor

Interview with Lee Fribbins

Editor Racing Pigeon and Racing Pigeon Pictorial International

Pigeon racing is one of the most unique pastimes in the world. There are few if any sports or hobbies that can span across people in all walks, stages and ages of life throughout the world.

I have had a lifelong fascination with racing pigeons and have kept pigeons since I was six years of age. My dedication, experience and passion for every aspect of pigeons has allowed me the fortunate and unique opportunity of making a career from nearly four decades of a hobby.

Over the years I have been able to have literally travelled the globe, I have met some wonderful pigeon flyers and have learned so much about their pigeons and methods and in particular the mental and physical attributes of the worlds quickest long distance athlete, the racing pigeon. The sport has moved on and developed in to a modern state of the art past time. Modern and money does not by any means replace for the old ways as once a pigeon is liberated, its down to pigeon versus pigeon.

My main interest has always been pigeon management, health and well being. I was already manufacturing a non-sterile product range but in 1999 started to develop and market a range of vitamin products specifically aimed at the racing pigeon fraternity, this range has been developed over the years and was the inspiration and driving force behind Pigeon Health, UK Animal Products Ltd.

Global newspaper publishing is another aspect of my business where my operation began in 2007 when I became the owner and editor of The Racing Pigeon first published in 1898. The move into media was a sentimental one to start with, the heritage of the oldest pigeon racing magazine being lost for good drove me to make sure that the magazine could continue and is now going from strength to strength. Today it has a weekly circulation of over 10,000 and the glossy Pigeon Pictorial International, a monthly sister magazine is distributed in over 50 countries.  A team of graphic designers and editorial staff help me produce what is the only independent newspaper for pigeons available in the UK.

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The latest addition to this local pigeon business empire was in 2012 with business partners David Coward-Talbott and Dr Henk De Weerd we opened the UK’s first and to this day only veterinary clinic dedicated to pigeons. Some of which can be worth many tens-of thousands of pounds but more typically a couple of hundred or so pounds each. We hold consultation sessions here at the beginning of most weeks and attract both visitors and telephone callers from across the country and further afield. We also bring in specialist consultants like Dr Henk De Weerd, a leading pigeon vet in Holland, on a regular basis to advise breeders and pigeon keepers on proper health and disease control.

Our Veterinary clinic currently employs a team of four to provide the practice administration and to conduct many of the postal diagnostic tests that are regularly sent in by breeders and racers. We pro-actively look at our services and the needs of pigeons and fanciers and we are seeing this new aspect of our operation rapidly grow in popularity.

I am helping spearhead an active movement to use modern technology and interest schools in getting younger people involved in the sport which combines animal husbandry with racing. It is relatively inexpensive and provides sport for the whole family in a highly social environment. I am also working closely with a small committee Pigeon Racing UK also known as The Raptor Alliance which is the latest initiative in the pigeon fraternity. It lobbies on behalf of the 60,000 or so pigeon fanciers for change in the protection of their racing birds. Currently they have no legal protection against increasing attacks from soaring sparrow hawk, peregrine falcon and other raptor populations and The Alliance wants to be able to capture and then released these raptors away from affected pigeon lofts to reduce the problem.

In summary pigeons and doves are thought to have been amongst the first feathered friends ever domesticated and pigeon racing both in the UK and across Europe has and still is, a massive pastime – albeit having dwindled slightly over recent decades. Even HM The Queen keeps racing pigeons to this day and is patron of a number of pigeon racing societies in recognition of her interest in the sport.

It is important to me that in a day of our changing society with the internet, smart phones and computer games and cyber life that we now live in, that we do remember the important roles that pigeons have played in forging memories, friendships plus heroically saving many lives during wartimes. Pigeons have been our feathered friends for over 5,000 years and we should continue to encourage this bond that we have with no other flying species.

For any further information contact the editor on rp.editor@btconnect.com