“Homer” presents awards at Irish National Night of the Year –
The annual Night of the Year for the Irish National Flying Club was held as usual at the plush Stormont Hotel in Belfast on Friday 26th November 2022. As well as all the winners it was a special occasion for myself, having at last been persuaded by the Patron Ronnie Johnston to present awards at this years event. Other than work as Press Officer, and on a number of other occasions covering news reports my last time involved was back 40 years ago when I was asked to present the first winners of the Gold Medal with their prize. I think on that occasion back in 1982 the special guest was the Lord Mayor of Belfast and during the presentation some lids on the cups crashed to the ground, the officials have been more careful since. After having success at first getting with the late L O Barr the Yearling Nat established firstly in 1977 as a race to celebrate the Queens Jubilee who was The INFC Patron at the time and in 1978 we managed to get the race added to the official programme and since its introduction it has become one of the top races of the year. As I had said the Yearling National was flown for the first time in 1977 to celebrate the Queens Jubilee Year, liberation in Weymouth was at 5.30am after a one-day hold-over. Toland & Campbell from Bleary won 1st Open INFC doing velocity 1055 and collected the Jubilee Trophy. In 1978 the race was added to the INFC race programme, and the new Nelson Corry Cup was presented for first time to W V Troughton of Gilford flying 298 miles recording velocity1232. As I say after having success getting a Yearling National, I put forward a resolution to the AGM in 1979 for a Gold Medal to be awarded to individual birds scoring on four occasions in the Kings Cup. We already had the Hall of Fame Diploma for three times in the Kings Cup, the Gold Medal was to be a bigger test. The first year to qualify for this award was in 1982 and we could hardly believe we had two winners, and it might not be just a hard as we were thinking. In the 40 years up to this year we have just had 14 winners and that included Paul Dunlop from Edgartown the winner in 2022. Paul has set a bit of a record having won the Silver Medal awarded to birds 4 times in the Friendship Nat result and this bird bred this season’s Gold Medal winner. He is the first-time winner of both medals, fantastic! – And well done.