Henk de Brueijs
By: Lee Fribbins
During the meetings I had with Steve Dunn in the period that I showed my interest in the Racing Pigeon and the Pictorial we discussed also the way of distributing and the contents of the international edition Pictorial. Steve mentioned that he was already in contact with somebody from abroad and that he has had several meetings to discuss the way of increasing the number of subscribers abroad and especially to introduce the Pictorial one way or the other in the P.R.China.
The moment I was really involved in our magazines I decided after a few months to make a phone call to the contact of Steve.
I came in contact with Henk de Brueijs (68) of Holland and made an appointment to meet him at Stansted Airport.
During our discussion I noticed that Henk knew what he was talking about when I mentioned the marketing, distributing and other matters re. the R.P and Pictorial.
As one says sometimes there was a “click” and we decided that he would make all the necessary arrangements for a visit on a short term China.
During this trip to “Shangri La” we had lots of time to talk and discuss all kind of matters our magazines involved.
I asked Henk if he was willing to represent us as a marketing manager and besides this to write articles about our hobby in general.
As I noticed that Henk had an interesting past I like to give you a brief information about his contacts and experiences in pigeon sport and in general.
Henk was born just before the beginning of W.W.II in Amsterdam in a real pigeon loving family. His father raced already pigeons since the early twenties with pigeons from his brother in law living in Lier, Belgium.
In 1942 the Germans ordered that all the racing pigeons had to be killed and the fanciers had to bring the leg with the ring of the killed pigeons to the nearest police station. In the cities it was almost impossible to let the pigeons go “underground” so direct after the war in May 1945 there was in Amsterdam no racing pigeon to find except those in the lofts of the German Wehrmacht, located in the harbour quarter of the city.
Henk can remember that he saw for the first time a racing pigeon a few months after the liberation. His father and one of his friends took him with them to the Wehrmacht lofts were a limited number of fanciers were allowed to collect one pair of pigeons. One has to know that in those times Amsterdam had over a 2000 fanciers which all liked to start-up again with their beloved hobby. ( if we notice that now a days only 150 to 175 lofts are still active in the capital of the Netherlands one can conclude that also here the interest for keeping pigeons decreased dramatically- in the fifties Holland counted about 55.000 lofts and today we must be happy if a 20.000 fanciers, on their own or in combination with friends are still racing pigeons)
The following years Henk became familiar with a great number of aspects how to keep and race the pigeons. It happens not a few times that his father wrote a note for his school that he had to visit the doctor or dentist. This happens always on the Monday if the pigeons had to home from a long distance race or in case of a postponed race of Sunday.
In 1958 Henk was visiting the military school in Breda, a place with a magic sound for pigeon fanciers because this town was the residence of the, in those days already famous Piet de Weerd. Every fortnight Henk paid a visit to this tycoon in pigeon sport to buy or collect a few sachets of the till now a days known products BS and WN. He gathered almost every possible information about pigeons and had a special interest in the way of selecting the right pigeons.
After his military service he started to study and was working at his career.
In 1964 he moved to an other city, where he is still living, in the south of Amsterdam and came into the position to race pigeons for his own.
In 1974 he became a member of the board of the Federation in his area followed in 1976 to act for over 10 years as chairman for the long distance racing club “Gooi-en Eemland”.(600 members)
In the eighties he became a member of the “Dutch Group of Pigeon Judges” and till today he is active during the winter season as a judge.
For his work he was travelling all over the world and every where he made contacts with pigeon fanciers. He was visiting the Middle East numerous times and also here he got the change to be involved in a certain way in racing pigeons. In his, spare free time he collected as much as possible information about the use of pigeons in war time and wrote the script for a t.v. documentary.
Behind the scenes he founded together with the director BeNeLux of British Airways in this period also the “Incentive Travel Management Association Netherlands” with members as Hilton Hotels, K.L.M. ,Lufthansa, Sheraton and many others.
Besides this activity he initiated and organized numbers of events such as, for 7 years the “Tour of Israel” for cyclists in cooperation with Jan Janssen, former World Champion Cycling and winner of the Tour de France. He also organized in Israel in close cooperation with the local authorities an international soccer tournament with KV.Mechelen, winner of the Europe Cup. They were invited by the ministry of Tourism to India and were hosted by one of the last acting Maharajas in the neighbourhood of Bangalore.
In 1986 he was contacted by the director of Thai International Airways and representatives of the Tourist Authorities to be involved in the organisation of the 1st.Asia Racing Pigeon Conference to be held in Bangkok in 1987. Travelling all together 7 times in the following 14 months to the “Land of Smile” he was heavily involved in the big success of the conference and one-loft race. Up to 2002 he was representing the organisation and all together he collected over 500 pigeons to participate in these one-loft races and organised trips to Thailand for around 350 fanciers (also from the U.K ,Belgium and Germany). Due to this activities he came in contact with many fanciers from all over the world and he introduced numerous fanciers and business people to Thailand and other countries in the Far East.
Numerous times he was visiting the last decade alone or together with Dr.Henk de Weerd the Far East and other countries. He was one of the representatives of Thailand at the pigeon Olympiad in South Africa and came in close contact with Chinese pigeon friends. These contacts are grown to a real friendship and Henk is now a regular visitor of China and especially of the Province Henan.
During the period 1994 - 2000 Henk was also heavily involved in cattle breeding in Thailand. Together with his colleagues he was working on an increase of the milk production and improvement of the quality of the cattle.
The pigeons became more and more important because Henk could find the time in his loft to relax. He tried out for himself several breeding techniques to find the right pigeon to act on the, most of the times very tough one-loft races in the Far East and with success. At his loft one can find the best of Jan Loots (van Boxtel-Janssen) and Aarden pigeons.
Already for many years he is representing Belgica De Weerd in the U.K. for his friend dr.Henk de Weerd which is as Henk says “the best pigeon vet in the world“. He also said
“Without a proper medical guidance you can not reach now a days the absolute top in pigeon sport. Fanciers became through the years more educated and has the financial possibilities and more (lots) free time to act with their pigeons in a more professional way. You can not say that pigeon sport is any longer a hobby that’s why I, due to a leg of time does not race the pigeons in Holland for the last 5 years”.
Henk is not the type of man who can sit at home and let the time run-out without doing some thing interesting. I’m very happy that we decided to cooperate for the near future and I’m sure that we can develop a few new ideas. We started already to work on the publication of the Pictorial in China and met already the right persons of the Chinese Racing Pigeon Association. In this case we are talking about a huge land with over 500,000 fanciers which even don’t speak the same language because China has about 25 different dialects. What to think about the distribution of a magazine from Mongolia to Dalian and Shanghai.
How to meet all these different fanciers. One of the tools in China is to organize a one-loft race. As we all know there are many of these events in China and most of them with the accent on the prize money and pigeon business.
Henk advised me to adopt the Li-Da one-loft race in one of the provinces of China, far from the, for foreign fanciers civilized world with names as Beijing and Shanghai with their million dollar races.
Our idea is to get you informed about a one-loft race with around 3000 local participating pigeons. The organisation likes our idea to promote this race via the R.P. and the Pictorial to attract fanciers from abroad to enter a few of their pigeons. The prize money is not the main target ( 1st.prize Euro 6,000) but to come in contact with the Chinese people with the same interests seems to us more important. We discussed already with the organisation a for the pigeon sport complete new way of entering the by us collected pigeons.
A trip with friends in pigeon sport to the centre of China to attend this race and visiting lot’s of interesting places in this special part of the world is one of our dreams.
We keep you informed.
From this place I like to thank Henk that he was willing to give us an insight in his past and hope that we can cooperate for many years.