CHRIS Snell (pictured) is one of the unsung high-achievers of Grimsby.
Unsung because his successes have come in the unglamorous world of breeding pedigree exhibition budgerigars.
Now in his 50s, he is a relative veteran of the budgerigar scene, having started in the hobby on his tenth birthday.
One of his first birds was bit of a mystery package because it was yellow with brown wings, but he later ascertained that it was what is known as a lutino whose wings had been stained by creosote!
Chris has an enviably consistent record of success, with numerous best-in-show awards and a host of specials from the Budgerigar Society world championship - the highlight coming on November 3, 1984, when the young light green hen he bred in partnership with his late father, Arthur, beat off the challenge of some 5,370 other birds to take top honour.
The father-of-four (including one stepchild) says the memory of that triumph has fired his continuing ambition to succeed with his birds.
Chris, has also judged at budgerigar shows all over the world.
The question-and-answer feature below originally appeared in the specialist publication, Cage & Aviary Birds.
WHAT'S YOUR OVERALL MANAGEMENT APPROACH TO YOUR BIRDS?
Nothing gives me greater joy than to see a nestbox full of chicks. I am sure birds breed better if they are happy and healthy, so I favour expansive open-topped flights where they get plenty of exercise plus the benefits of sunshine and rain. I am not overly-concerned about any disease risk from the droppings of wild birds.
WHO HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST INFLUENCES IN YOUR LIFE?
Undoubtedly my mother, Mary, and my late father, Arthur. In all aspects of life - not just the Fancy - their support and encouragement always proved invaluable.
ANY OTHER HEROES?
I learnt a huge amount from two great fanciers of the past, Jack Fisher and Harry Bryan - both great budgie men who transformed the hobby. But you never stop learning, and I have also benefited from the insights of Geoff Tuplin and fellow-members of Cleethorpes Budgerigar & Foreign Bird Society.
ARE YOU WORKING OR RETIRED?
I used to work for a firm that imports timber from Russia, but in recent years I have scaled down my involvement to providing consultancy services as and when required.
DO YOU SPEAK RUSSIAN?
WHAT'S YOUR BEST BIRDKEEPING MEMORY?
I as at home running water in the bath when I received the phone call from my dad that one of our birds had won top award at the Budgerigar Society club show. I am not normally emotional but I was so overcome that I inadvertently climbed into the bath fully clothed!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ALTERNATIVE HOBBY?
I'm an avid follower of Manchester United.
DID YOU PLAY MUCH FOOTBALL IN YOUR YOUNGER DAYS?
Yes, up until I was 23, I played at a competitive level to a fairly high standard. I was a centre half. But I gave up because other commitments - not least budgies - meant I didn't have time to attend twice-weekly training. In my last match, I recall the referee booked me for tripping an opponent!
WITH WHICH PERSON, FAMOUS OR OTHERWISE, WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER?
Manchester United’s former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is one of my idols. Because of his flair and attention to detail, I have no doubt he would also make a top-class bird fancier. If he decides to take up the hobby in his retirement, I would happily let him have a few of my birds to set him on his path.
DO YOU READ ANY NATIONAL/LOCAL NEWSPAPER?
No, I used to take our local Grimsby Telegraph but not any more.
IF YOU COULD TRAVEL BACK IN TIME, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
I have never had any hankering to step back into yesteryear because I have always been happy to live in the present. But I guess it would be interesting to re-experience the 1950s - the decade when I started making my way in the world.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY?
I would give a lot away - including a chunk to any organisation, home or overseas, that promotes the budgerigar hobby. Anyone taking up the hobby would get free cages and seed. If there was any money left, I would buy a lifetime Man Utd season ticket.
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, WOULD YOU DO TO CHANGE THE FANCY?
I would use every tool possible to promote the keeping of budgerigars. Increasingly, that means making greater use of electronic communications and social websites. I am a great fan of the new internet budgerigar forum.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE BIRD SHOW?
The annual BS club show and world championship - a great event where the quality of the birds is invariably outstanding.
IF YOU COULD KEEP AN ALTERNATIVE BIRD WHAT WOULD IT BE?
That's a tough one. It would be a choice between British, racing pigeons or homing budgies. I once met the Queen Mother and had an interesting chat with her about the homing budgies at Windsor. She was worried that they were being taken by sparrowhawks, but I sought to reassure her that it was the weaker birds that were being taken and the fittest would survive.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WILD SPECIES?
The bullfinch - it's a beautiful bird.
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT REALLY IRRITATES YOU?
Queuing. If it means standing in line, I'd rather not go.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION?
Las Vegas, I'm not a gambler but it's a fabulous city where everything is so much larger than life. It has fantastic shows, starring some of the world's greatest artistes. I remember visiting one hotel where there were lions in the reception area!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE WATCHING ON TV?
I love quiz shows such as Eggheads.
CAN YOU REMEMBER THE LAST MOVIE YOU SAW?
The King's Speech - I prefer films with a factual basis. A few months before that, I went to Avatar, but don't ask me what it was about - I fell asleep halfway through!
ANY FAVOURITE MUSIC OR SINGER?
The sounds of the 'Sixties, especially The Beatles. My favourite track is Help which I find inspiring.
YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD?
Lincolnshire sausages with mashed potatoes and peas. That's something I would miss if I lived abroad. It's the herbs that give Lincolnshire bangers the edge over the rest.
Tea. I am not a big alcohol drinker - it tends to give me a headache.
WHAT DO YOU DRIVE?
A silver Mercedes-Benz E320. It's a lovely car and my one luxury.