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The Legendary Van Hees
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This is an article about a European strain of racing pigeons that for generations has had a world wide reputation as being one of the best, if not thee best, so far in the development of the thoroughbreds of the sky. Unlike many great strains, the family who moulded the originals are still the family who manage the modern descendants of the foundation today. The one- and- only van Hee strain has rewritten the record

This is an article about a European strain of racing pigeons that for generations has had a world wide reputation as being one of the best, if not thee best, so far in the development of the thoroughbreds of the sky. Unlike many great strains, the family who moulded the originals are still the family who manage the modern descendants of the foundation today. The one- and- only van Hee strain has rewritten the record
books, not alone in Europe but wherever on this planet the sport of pigeon racing flourishes.

This strain now covers three generations. It was founded by Gerard van Hee who was born in 1910, and when the founder died in 1998, the reins were taken up by his son, Michel, who was involved with his father in the propagating of the strain for years.Sadly Michel died in an accident and the pigeon world expected to see the dispersal of a strain which for decades led were others had merely followed. But it was not to be. A third member of the van Hee family decided to support the legend, in the person of a beautiful young woman, Annemie van Hee. The dynasty was saved. Annemie, Michel's daughter and the granddaughter of Gerard, decided after her fathers death and prior to the auction to continue with the sport and she, too, has the magic touch of her father and grandfather, for in turn she has experienced success.

The seed of the van Hees took root in 1925 when its founder, Gerard, at the age of approximately 15 years, caught the bug that many before and since have experienced, and entered the world of pigeondom. He was a thinking type of fancier and he pursued the knowledge of racing pigeons wherever it existed, becoming a walking encyclopaedia of the sport. Obviously, this gave Gerard van Hee a confidence which was a definite advantage when it came to stocking, breeding, and racing.

Sadly, the adventure was dealt a blow when the Second World War intervened and the potential van Hee dynasty was wiped out as Gerard witnessed the destruction of his stock. However, the fire had been lit and when the war ended, with a steely resolve Gerard travelled Belgium to purchase stock, after initially discerning who were the owners of the best pigeons. In due course, owning the bloodlines of the
best to be got at the time (including well- known names such as Stichelbaut, Cattrysse,

Descamps-Van Hasten, Huyskens- Van Riel, amongst others), thus from the ashes of the war the legend resurfaced and in due course, through the brain of a master, a strain was built upon those various bloodlines.

As the strain developed, there appeared five lines in the breeding loft. They were not strictly kept pure, but crossed and the lines which lay at the base of the racers were as follows:

1. Atoom - 1st National Limoges winner 1962.
2. Motta - line, top racer.
3. Patrick - Gold Medal Olympiad Winner.
4. Napoleon - 1st International Narbonne 1978.
5. Janssen Arendonk - for speed in the distance lines.

After winning the National from Chateauroux in 1949 (van Hees first national win ) upto 1995, the lofts won many Regional and Provincial prizes. Amazingly, during those years they won approximately 20 Nationals, two of them also 1sts International. In addition, the lofts won 16 x 2nd Nationals. What an
achievement! Just look at the list:

1949- 1st National Chateauroux.
1958- 1st NationalVannes.
1959- 1st National Argenton with Kleine.
1962- 1st National Limoges with Atoom. and 1st National Libourne with Monsieur.
1969- 1st National Montauban with Argenton.
1971- 1st National Barcelona with Jonge Monsieur (5th International).
1972- 1st National Limoges with Dromer.
1974- 1st National Barcelona with Teentje and 1st National Bordeaux (hens) with Bordeautje.
1975, 1st National Bordeaux with Zwarte Ijzeren and 1st National Montauban (hens) with Ginetje.
1976- 1st National Bordeaux (yearlings) with Apache.
1977- 1st National Cahors (hens) with Lucresetje, (4th National overall).
1978- 1st International Narbonne with Napoleon.
1982- 1st National St. Vincent with Workman-Libourne.
1983- 1st International Lourdes with Lourdes.
1988- 1st National La Souterraine with Domingo.
1995- 1st National Limoges with pure Patrick Gimondi and 1st National Limoges young birds.

We also must take into account that Vanhee was Four Times National Long- Distance Champion of the National Federation K.B.D.B. and 2 times General Champion of Belgium, K.B.D.B. Vanhees have also scored at the pigeon Olympiads, which implies outstanding results for the two years prior to an Olympiad. In fact, they have scored at five Olympiads, including Lisbon 1959, Gold Medal Standard Class with Crayonné;
Essen 1961, Silver Medal Sport Class with Kleinen; Katowiczse 1969, Gold Medal Sport Class with Patrick; Budapest 1975, Gold Medal Sport Class with Patrick Ijzeren and Blackpool 1977, Silver Medal Sport Class with Blauwe Motta.

Beyond the family, van Hee pigeons have scored for fanciers world-wide including wins at National and international level. (Indeed this has been recognized by the European racing pigeon community for the van Hees have been awarded the Continent's Supreme Breeding Award for long distance.) The list is too numerous to relate in this brief article of tribute to a great strain but there are hundreds of fanciers
who are scoring because a man called Gerard van Hee in the last century, set out to conquer the world of pigeon racing and indeed, that is what he accomplished.




Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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