A Stranocum pigeon fancier has achieved what no other local has done for almost a quarter of a century - winning a national Young Bird race.
Stephen Laverty, who has been keeping pigeons for more than 20 years, saw his prize bird, ‘Hawbank Hayley’ win the NIPA Young Bird National which took place on Thursday, September 1.
Stephen was the overall winner followed by Peter Tierney of Monaghan and McMurray and Anderson of Ligoniel.
This was Stephen’s first time win in such a prestigious race and he is naturally delighted at his bird’s success which was named after his grand-daughter.
A member of both Ballymoney and Dervock Pigeon Clubs, Stephen raced a very small team all year and recorded the loft’s best ever result to win 1st Sect B and 1st Open IPA doing velocity 1601.
A total of 525 members sent 3636 birds which were liberated at 9.30 a.m. in an easterly wind.
Compared with others, Stephen has a relatively small loft keeping around 100 racing pigeons at his Hawbank home in the village.
Commenting on the win, Stephen told the Times: “I couldn’t believe it. I was always expecting someone else to beat me to it.”
He added that he would never part with the bird which will always hold a special place in the Laverty household and also acknowledged the support of his wife, Elizabeth, who has an equal interest in her husband’s hobby.
He admitted that his telephone had not stopped ringing with well wishers some he didn’t even know.
Stephen’s achievement will be recognised at a later date at a formal presentation.