A very proud Geoff and Catherine Cooper
Geoff, Catherine, Mark with Etienne Meirlaen and his wie
Early Saturday morning Geoff and Catherine, along with Mark Gilbert made the journey over to Verviers in Belgium to attend the prize presentation and collect their trophies for the fantastic International race they had from Agen with the Bordeaux Televie organisation. As most know, the UK had a brilliant race from Agen with 1st and 2nd Old Birds won by Geoff and Catherine Cooper and 1st and 2nd Yearlings International was won by Mark Gilbert. Mark also won 1st, 2nd and 3rd Hens and 3rd old birds. This result was backed up by several other UK fanciers who were well up in the old bird result, showing that once again, given the right circumstances, the UK can compete with the best in Europe. The Bordeaux Televie also organise the Narbonne International, this was won by Etienne Meirlaen who is one of the top long distance fanciers in Belgium.
The secretary of Bordeaux Televie Henri Hanlet, booked the English fanciers into a lovely hotel a five minute walk away from the presentation. They were joined at the hotel by Pieter Olberholster who works hard promoting the UK fanciers and their birds on the world stage, he was also attending the presentation. Yvan Eeckhout the secretary of the Entente Belg and his wife Brigitte joined the British fanciers in their celebrations. Yvan has been a long time supporter of British International racing, he was instrumental in helping to organise the NFC’s participation in International racing. Along with Yvan and Brigitte, Frank and Julie Howard who now race and live in Belgium joined the UK party and a good night was enjoyed by all. The five course dinner was perfect, with venison as the main course and a lovely chocolate cake with ice cream to finish.
The British fanciers were warmly welcomed by the officials of Bordeaux Televie, Henri Hanlet and the President Gilbert Wauthier and by the other Belgium fanciers. The trophies received were beautiful large glass vases, very unusual and very appreicated. Geoff, Catherine and Mark were joined in their celebrations by Etienne Meirlaen who they all knew from previous visits to Belgium, in fact in the winter Geoff, Catherine and Mark visited Etienne and were photographed together, then later that season all three of them won 1st International. They had their photo’s taken together again, not that any of them are superstitious but……
Philip Herbot came and congratulated the British fanciers and reminisced about dancing with Catherine at Blackpool over twenty years ago. Many drinks later it was time to go back to the hotel where after a few more drinks Mark and Pieter decided to hit the town, at dawn they tumbled back into the hotel, and after breakfast, Catherine had to once again dispense the painkillers all round! At lunchtime it was time for Mark, Geoff and Catherine to head back to the UK, so they said goodbye to Pieter and vowed they would all try again next year to fly the flag for the UK.