Above: On the road: in the 1980s, Tom Lewis (right) made this six-foot budgie from wire mesh and papier mâché, and (with permission from the Chief Constable of Bristol) paraded around Bristol with a PA system to advertise Bristol BS’s open show. He was joined by current secretary, Colin Parsons

TOM LEWIS HAS been singled out by the Cage & Aviary Birds team for our 2017 Birdkeeper of the Year award, for his outstanding service to club publicity.

Mr Lewis, 79, from Yate, Bristol, is the second recipient of our annual award, which celebrates a birdkeeper who has motivated, inspired and supported the fancy. C&AB’s three editorial staff chose Mr Lewis in recognition of his effective publicity for his clubs: Budgerigar Societies In The West and Bristol BS. C&AB exists to promote the fancy and without hardworking club publicity officials, such as Mr Lewis, it would be difficult for the hobby to flourish.

Having been involved in birdkeeping for the past 50 years, Mr Lewis began at a young age keeping Light Sussex, Rhode Island red and brown leghorn chickens to produce eggs for the local egg-packing station and chickens for the table trade. Starting in the early 1970s, he kept aviary-type budgerigars for the benefit of his three sons Dale, Mark and Shaun, until he met a local exhibition budgerigar champion, the late Albert Greenaway.

Since then, Mr Lewis has enjoyed some show-bench success, and he continues to keep and breed budgerigars despite a diagnosis in 1998 of glaucoma in his left eye. This inspired Mr Lewis, who lost his other eye in 1943, to write for C&AB about the importance of having a glaucoma eye test (see “Why you may need more than an eye test”, June 10, 2000).

According to Mr Lewis, the duty of publicity for Budgerigar Societies In The West has been a privilege. Since he joined Bristol BS in the 1970s he has served numerous roles including secretary, publicity and minute secretary.

Mr Lewis said: “I cannot explain how thrilled I am that C&AB staff nominated me for this recognition award. It is a fantastic hobby and I have met some wonderful people.”

In response to our award, Mr Lewis pointed out that he had simply been carrying out his job.

Editor Rob Innes said: “Mr Lewis is the most modest of fanciers. Our point is to flag up to the fancy just how critical the publicity job is, and what a difference Mr Lewis makes by being so good at it.”

Laura Keens, C&AB sub-editor, added that it has been a pleasure to work with Mr Lewis for the Club News pages. She said: “To generate constant publicity for your club that is informative and entertaining can be tough, but Mr Lewis rises to the challenge each time.”

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