Tribute to pure breeds reporter Mike Corrigan

To his family and his friends he was Mick, to his audience in Poultry World he was Mike, but to all who knew him, both privately and professionally, he was someone who engendered total respect, writes Philip Clarke

His eldest son, Martin, said that if one were to ask those who had met him what sort of man he was, you would hear words like patient, diplomatic, selfless and considered.

“He was a man of simple, but refined tastes, possessing logic and creativity in equal measures, an adversary to consumerism and materialism, a religious man, but not a zealot.

“His primary mission always seemed to be impacting others in a positive fashion, in his thoughts and in his words, in his actions and in his interactions. He was a man consumed by a relentless pursuit to satisfy others.”

Peter Michael Corrigan was born in Esh Laude, a small village to the west of Durham, and went to the local primary, before completing his schooling at St Aidan’s Catholic School in Sunderland.

He moved to Manchester in his 20s to attend teacher training college, where he met his future wife, Marie, and went on to teach geography and art in two of the city’s Catholic high schools, St Pius X and St Greg’s, for the next 30 years.

As well as teaching, Mike’s other passion was nature and the countryside, so it was no coincidence that he forged a second career as a freelance rural journalist and photographer.

His father had been a pure breed fancier before him, achieving considerable success with Rosecombs, Dutch Bantams and Sebrights, and when he died, Mike continued the tradition. Through attending shows and events, he developed his considerable poultry photography and reporting skills.

His work first appeared in Poultry World in 1993, and he went on to produce the monthly Pure Breeds page for the next 18 years, as well as the Poultry World pure breeds poster. Former editor Richard Allison said he was “the best freelance journalist I ever worked with”, praising the quality of his work and his total dependability.

Mike wrote a regular column for Smallholder magazine and contributed to Fancy Fowl. He also helped illustrate numerous books on poultry – including Janice Houghton-Wallace’s Complete Guide to Raising Turkeys – and many of his pictures were used in the Poultry Club of Great Britain’s book of British Poultry Standards.

Current Poultry Club president, Chris Parker, said Mike’s contribution was “enormous” and his photographs “set the standard”.

“I have very many happy memories of taking photographs with Mike at shows all over the country. I know many fanciers remember him for his visits to photograph their birds, where his patience and skill captured treasured shots of their prizewinners.

“He was a lovely man who had an expert eye for capturing the right shot of any breed, for he knew just how every bird should stand.”

Mike passed away before his time on 19 July 2011 at only 60 years of age. He leaves a wife, Marie, and two sons, Martin and Patrick. They have asked that anyone wishing to honour his memory should make a financial donation to Cancer Research UK.

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