FIFE CANARY KINGPIN David Shelbourne has inspired Cage & Aviary Birds to introduce a new annual Birdkeeper of the Year award – of which he is the first recipient.

Every December, the editorial team will announce the winner of our award, which celebrates a birdkeeper who has motivated, inspired and supported the fancy. Throughout the year we invite readers to send in their nominations of a worthy winner.

Mr Shelbourne, 74, from Wales, received his framed diploma last week, and it ties in with his recent retirement announcement from the Fife Fancy Federation (FFF) and North Wales Fife Canary Club (North Wales FCC).

Having been a general secretary for 58 years (45 years in the pigeon fancy and 13 years in the Fife canary fancy), Mr Shelbourne is stepping down for health reasons. He will retire at the forthcoming AGMs in February and April.

Prior to succeeding Chris Smith as FFF secretary in 2015, Mr Shelbourne had many successes with his canaries, and at the past four Gouden Ring Shows has taken a total of two gold, two silver and three bronze medals.

His involvement with the Fife section at the National Exhibition has seen entry figures hit an all-time high, and he has smashed all records at the North Wales FCC – benched this year were an exceptional 1,036 birds.

Mr Shelbourne said: “I’ve been presented a lot of mementoes over the years for what I have achieved in the pigeon world, but to be C&AB’s Birdkeeper of the Year is something special and I will treasure it.

“Chris Smith, at the Gouden Ring show earlier this month, said my shoes will be hard to fill – for that to come from him was lovely. I hope to be in next year’s National as a competitor.”

C&AB editor Rob Innes said the editorial team had been “blown away” by the Fife section at Stafford this year. He explained: “David and his team did a phenomenal job and are an inspiration to the entire exhibition fancy. At that moment we knew we’d have to commemorate this achievement somehow, and the terrific entry in Wales last month simply confirmed that.

“We felt that David was such an obvious choice as Birdkeeper of the Year that we decided to introduce this new annual award. Next year’s candidates will have a lot to live up to!”