Win­ner Takes it All

Lewis Wilkin­son, an eight-year-old Silkie lover from We­ston-su­per-Mare, may be the first mem­ber of his fam­ily to try ex­hibit­ing, but that hasn’t stopped him from leav­ing a raft of more ex­pe­ri­enced com­peti­tors trail­ing in his wake

Your Chickens - - Contents -

Multi-medalled ju­nior Lewis Wilkin­son

Lewis Wilkin­son has been caus­ing quite a stir on the show cir­cuit. He only needs to turn up with his trusty Silkies Chirp and Poldark and his ri­vals start to feel a lit­tle ner­vous.

And that is not sur­pris­ing, for Lewis’s im­pres­sive win­ning streak be­gan back in 2016 when his late white Silkie cock­erel Friz­zle headed his Silkie Class and then be­came Cham­pion Soft Feath­ered Light Large at the pres­ti­gious Royal Bath and West Show in Som­er­set. Fast for­ward to Jan­uary 2018 and Chirp won Best Silkie at Ash­bour­ton Show; a few months later, as spring was turn­ing into sum­mer, Chirp took Cham­pion Ju­ve­nile hon­ours at the North Som­er­set Show; then Chirp and Poldark helped Lewis to cap­ture the sash for Cham­pion Ju­nior Han­dler at Devon County. In July, to add to Lewis’s ever ex­pand­ing tro­phy col­lec­tion, Poldark be­came Cham­pion Ju­ve­nile at the Royal Welsh.

“Ac­tu­ally, Lewis has won so many classes that there are too many to list,” says his mother, Car­rie Wilkin­son, a sin­gle par­ent who lives with Lewis, her only child, in We­ston-su­per-Mare. “But he works very hard. We don’t have hol­i­days — the shows are our va­ca­tions — and while his friends have been to Dis­ney­land, Lewis prefers to sleep in a tent at a show­ground. It makes me re­ally proud to see his hard work pay off. A lot of his friends think its odd and a lot of mine don’t un­der­stand why we show chick­ens, but Lewis is learn­ing about re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Lewis’s love of furry and feath­ered crea­tures — and Silkies are his num­ber one favourite — can be traced back at least half a decade be­fore the eight-year-old even started school.

“We’ve al­ways spent a lot of time at Court Farm Coun­try Park, a lo­cal fam­ily-run farm,” says Car­rie, who works as a vet­eri­nary nurse. “Lewis loves farm an­i­mals and I think that may come from my job. He en­joys hear­ing how my day went and any funny in­ci­dents that may have hap­pened.”

How­ever, a pas­sion for birds may also be in Lewis’s genes. His grand­fa­ther was an or­nithol­o­gist. “They spent lots of time look­ing at bird books to­gether. I think Lewis gets his tal­ents from my fa­ther,” adds Car­rie.

Un­til re­cently, though, Car­rie’s own fear of fly­ing feath­ered crea­tures meant that she would go out of her way to avoid them, rather like Tippi He­dren in Al­fred Hitch­cock’s 1963 hor­ror film The Birds.

“I didn’t like be­ing in the same room with them,” Car­rie ex­plains. “But I had to get over it as I could see Lewis look­ing at my re­ac­tions and I was wor­ried that I would pass my fear on to him. I’m happy to han­dle any birds now and I al­ways of­fer to do so at work. Lewis helped me to over­come my fear. I don’t think I could have done so if it wasn’t for his love of chick­ens. I’m so glad I did get over it as I love the fact that they have be­come a pas­sion for us both.”

Car­rie and Lewis live with Car­rie’s mother, Lynn Wilkin­son, in a house with a large gar­den. It is here that Lewis’s two chick­ens have oceans of room to roam.

Lewis hatched Chirp, his white Silkie ban­tam, him­self.

“She’s full of sass and very cute,” says Car­rie. “She loves the shows and peo­ple look­ing at her. She sits well on cham­pi­onship row and she’s per­fect for Lewis to han­dle due to her size and that Silkie kind­ness she has.”

The St Anne’s Pri­mary School pupil took on Poldark, his large white Silkie cock­erel, in Fe­bru­ary.

“Poldark pro­tects Chirp from any­thing he thinks will harm her,” says Car­rie. “Poldark’s a real char­ac­ter and he loves sweet­corn treats. He’s been used at a lo­cal col­lege for an­i­mal han­dling so he’s great for Lewis to try ju­nior han­dler classes with.”

How­ever, own­ing and show­ing chick­ens hasn’t been all roset­te­filled and plain sail­ing for the Cub Scout. In June 2016 a fox broke into Friz­zle’s coop and killed Lewis’s “best friend”.

“Lewis, be­ing the amaz­ing child that he is, to­tally un­der­stood and ex­plained to me at the age of six that this was na­ture. How­ever, a few days later, while at school, it all hit him and he be­came re­ally up­set,” Car­rie says. “That’s when Om­let stepped in and made him so happy by sup­ply­ing him with an Eglu Go UP coop. He may not have got his cock­erel back, but the rest of his birds were now safe.

“As Lewis was get­ting older, we then de­cided that he needed a real show bird, so we thought we would hatch some eggs. Brin­sea [In­cu­ba­tors Ltd] kindly gave Lewis an in­cu­ba­tor and on Christ­mas Eve 2016 three lit­tle Silkies hatched. [Lewis is now spon­sored by both Om­let and Brin­sea.] Sadly, only one made it and that is Chirp. Lewis gets lots of com­ments about her at shows.”

Lewis’s foray into the once alien (to him) world of poul­try show­ing was sparked by watch­ing Trac­tor Ted Show­time, fol­lowed by a visit to the North Som­er­set Show.

“Lewis de­cided that he wanted to show cows,” laughs Car­rie. “Af­ter a long chat about how a cow was not go­ing to fit in the gar­den, he agreed that it was not a good idea. I then saw that there was an ex-com­mer­cial hen sale tak­ing place lo­cally and Lewis said that he would love some hens. So off he went with his money and he brought home two hens who he named Les and Fudge af­ter Trac­tor Ted char­ac­ters.

“I se­cretly en­tered them into the Royal Bath & West Show af­ter ask­ing him if he would like a nice camp­ing hol­i­day — which was at the Bath & West Show­ground. I only told him what he was go­ing to be do­ing the day be­fore the show. Then he bathed Les and Fudge to get them ready. When he walked into the show­ing pav­il­ion and saw all the birds his face lit up. I’ve never seen him smile so much. Sue Black, a lovely lady who was ex­hibit­ing, could see that Lewis and I looked lost and she lit­er­ally took him un­der her wing and showed him how to make the hens look good for their classes.

“At this point my bird pho­bia was re­ally be­ing tested as I wouldn’t han­dle the birds,” adds Car­rie. “Lewis there­fore did ev­ery­thing him­self. He also took all of what was said on board and he still talks about that first show now. He even came away with two sec­ond-place rosettes, and from that mo­ment on he was hooked.”

Lewis loves ev­ery­thing about show­ing — even the 4.30am starts. He also man­ages to re­main cool, calm and col­lected when it comes to the nerve-wrack­ing judg­ing.

“It’s me who gets ner­vous,” ad­mits Car­rie. “Lewis works re­ally hard and as he doesn’t have a par­ent that shows or knows what to look for in a bird he re­ally has to do it all him­self.”

Come De­cem­ber, Lewis, Chirp, Poldark and Car­rie will be at the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships Poul­try Show in Telford. It will be their third visit.

“I’m so proud of all that Lewis has achieved,” says Car­rie. “I al­ways take pic­tures for him so that one day he can tell his own chil­dren about all the fun we had.”

I’m so proud of all that Lewis has achieved. I al­ways take pic­tures for him so that one day he can tell his own chil­dren about all the fun we had

ABOVE: Lewis with his Silkie Chirp, who he hatched him­self

Lewis re­ceives ad­vice at a show

ABOVE: Lewis lost Friz­zle in a fox at­tack in 2016

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.