Obituary: Colin Harker

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Colin Harker
Colin Harker

Colin Harker was passionate about racing pigeons and his expert knowledge enabled him to fly them successfully for a number of years.

An outgoing person, Colin was very well known in the racing pigeon community, as well as being a brilliant darts player and great runner in his youth.

His passion for racing pigeons began when as a young boy he used to help a local fancier, Joe Arnett, who was the landlord of the Letters Inn.

Colin, who lived in Aspatria for most of his life, bought his first allotment in 1980 and brought in Busschaert pigeons from Norwich.

He was the first in the large Aspatria club to have this strain - and they soon proved very popular as everyone tried to get them.

In 1992, Colin and Andrew Berwick formed a partnership, Harker and Berwick. The two combined resources and knowledge and quickly became the top flyers in the now defunct Aspatria flying club.

Colin had an encyclopedic knowledge of different strains of pigeons and different methods of training.

Colin had some outstanding pigeons including a very good chequer cock who was a racing machine. At one competition level it managed a first, second, third and sixth place, as well as winning lots of show races.

The team had great success, including their loft taking the first 15 positions in the Anglo-Scottish flying club and the first six in the Borders Fed.

Other great pigeons over the years included Moneyspinner, who had 12 firsts, winning from Appleton to Nantes.

A young bird in 1996 this pigeon is still in the loft today aged 21.

More recently, one bird won two Derwent Valley Federation titles, from two different race points in France.

Colin lived in Fletchertown before moving to Aspatria as a boy.

His mum, who was part of a big family, died when he was a teenager.

He went to school at Richmond Hill Primary School then Beacon Hill Community School.

After leaving education, he went to work for local builder Jim Armstrong and then when he retired, he worked for Thomas Armstrong.

In his youth, Colin was a talented athlete and could do all the running distances, from 100 metres through to a mile, except for the 400 metres -because he either set off too quickly and couldn’t hold on, or set off too slow and couldn’t catch up.

He ran at a high standard and once held the county mile record.

Colin was also a very successful darts player and he won many local open competitions and played in many local pubs.

He once pitted himself against a recording of darts great Phil Taylor - and won.

Colin was a real character who was with his pigeons just the day before he died. He never married or had children.

In 2002 Colin was diagnosed with a serious heart complaint and since that time did not enjoy the best of health.

He died on Sunday, April 2, leaving behind his sister Alexandra Harker, step mum Bernice Harker and his aunt Maureen and uncle Jobby.

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