Friday, October 13, 2006

Cage bird society celebrates centenary

Club president Peter Pennycook

Established in 1906, Loanhead and District Cage Bird Society has fought against dwindling interest in this dedicated past-time and is still going strong.

On Saturday, society members are expecting around 800 entries from across Scotland and the north of England to attend its 99th show. The popular show will take place in St Margaret's Church Hall, Clerk Street, Loanhead, from1.30pm to 4pm.

To mark the society's milestone, every exhibitor is to be presented with a specially-engraved pen and certificate. Additional medals will also be awarded to champions and novices at the show, which normally attracts around 600 entries.

A special invitation to attend has been sent to the society's oldest member, 92-year-old Robert Pentland, who lives in Gilmerton. Mr Pentland, who won the British Cup in 1951 with a first class goldfinch cock, keeps British birds, mules, hybrids and new colour canaries.

Judges at this year's show include Mr R Purdie (Norwich, Fife Fancies, British, Mule and hybrid), Mr D Anderson (Borders), Mr P Fleming (Glosters, Yorkshire and any other canary variety), Mr B Meichan (new colours), Mr D Lumsden (Fife Fancies), Mr R Rae (foreign) and Mr D Burnett (budgerigars).

The Loanhead show is the second biggest in the Lothians behind the Linlithgow show. The Scottish National Show in January remains the top attraction in the cage bird calendar.

This year there will be better prizes than normal this year thanks to the support from many of the specialist clubs. The Scottish Norwich Plainhead Club has donated prize money and the Fife Fancy Canary Club is to present 17 rosettes.Research carried out by society members, scanning the pages of the Midlothian Journal, revealed that the newly-formed Loanhead Cage Bird Society held its first show in October, 1907.

More than 200 birds were exhibited with the main prize-winners being Mr A Thomson and Mr J Thomson of Newtongrange, who were awarded the medal for the most points received.
The sterling efforts of the society, which continued to hold its annual show throughout World War One, were recognised in its early years by the town's then Provost Hugh Kerr, who remarked: "A man who has a hobby is a much better man as a rule than a man who has none."
President Peter Pennycook (70) has been a member of the society for more than 30 years and took over the presidency from Jimmy Lowe 10 years ago.

A resident of Moorfoot View, Bilston, Mr Pennycook first became interested in cage birds as a young boy. "I was a lad, just about eight or nine. My dad and I started with pigeons. I was a pigeon man first but when my dad died I put the pigeons away and started with budgies.
"I carried on from there getting more and more and the number just got bigger and bigger. In fact, I am having to make more cages as I have bred that many beautiful young ones," said a proud Mr Pennycook, who specialises in foreign birds including lovebirds and cockatiels.
With a host of rosettes to his name, Mr Pennycook, a former miner, won the Scottish National twice in 1993 with a barraband parrakeet and in 1997 with a crimson winged parrot.

"When I first started birds, there were 20 to 30 clubs in Scotland. Now you are lucky if there are half a dozen."If it wasn't for secretary Douglas Munro, member Dave White and I, there would be no club. I think there is determination in a few people left, who would like to see the club carry on."

Mr Pennycook, who retired as a kitchen fitter, admitted it was becoming increasingly difficult to attract new members."Young people have got computers, PlayStations and all that now. They are not interested," said the president, a member of the Lovebird 1990 Society, the Cockatiel Club, the Parrot Society, the Scottish Foreign Bird Society, the Java Sparrow Club and the Strathclyde Foreign Bird Society.

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