Pigeon racing fraternity mourns passing of Len

Len Russell.
Len Russell.

It is with deep regret that I inform the fancy on the passing of Len Russell following a short illness.

Len was best known of the famous Russell Bros of Cullybackey, he himself had started the birds in 1958.

His mother was involved with the pigeons many years before that at the home in Tullygrawley, and I well remember her attending the Cullybackey Flying Club dinner a long while back.

At that stage, the Russell Family Cup was presented for the first time awarded for Highest Prize-winner.

Len himself served the fancy for many years, a former Secretary in Cullybackey and a former NIPA Committee Member running the Cullybackey Centre for many years.

Russell Bros had great success racing over the years through to France and after a record breaking season in 1979 were crowned Northern Ireland Fancier of the Year.

A Yearling Nat was flown to celebrate the Queens Jubilee Year and in a close finish Russell Bros were pipped by the Lurgan loft of McCarron Bros & McAlinden.

The year after that the race was added to the INFC race programme and has been a great success ever since.

In the 2015 season Russell Bros had another top France Result from Quimper winning 1st in Mid Antrim Combine and 6th Open INFC Friendship National at 487 miles, even on a fast day.

Len will be long remembered for his achievements not only racing at the highest level but also in the Show Pen.

He enjoyed massive success at events throughout the whole Country, most particularly in his favourite class of Eye-sign.

He supported all the local events and at Ballymena & District on New Year’s Day won Most Points in Show for the fourth season on the trot.

We will also miss him at our Annual Dinner & Prize Presentation.

Len will be sadly missed in the local area, it will never be the same again for the local fancy.

His funeral service took place yesterday (Monday) in the Methodist Church in Cullybackey.

Ken Wilkinson is to Auction the birds at a later date.

On behalf of the local fancy sincere condolences to his wife Benina and the whole family circle at this sad time.