Legendary Van Hees
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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
books, not alone in Europe but wherever on this
planet the sport of pigeon racing flourishes.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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:
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
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.
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
1972- 1st National Limoges with Dromer.
1974- 1st National Barcelona with Teentje and
1st National Bordeaux (hens) with Bordeautje.
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.
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.
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
by: Liam O Comain