“He’s a genuinely nice person, a caring friend, loyal, hospitable, generous, bird-wise his awards speak for themselves”.
A tribute to Vincent Coquet by Joe Coakley
I was deeply saddened to hear the news that Vincent Coquet had died, unashamedly I sat and cried silently, I had lost a dear friend. During the Covid-19 pandemic we had been in touch through e-mail regarding our health and families, it was unexpected, a terrible shock!
Vincent may not have been known that well to our British breeders but on the international circuit he was an unassuming Master.
I first met Vincent in 2011 at the World Show in Tours, France, where I had entered my Lizards for the first time, it was a wonderful experience. On that day I saw a stam of Non Cap Silver Hens that had been awarded a Gold Medal. I was in awe!! That stam belonged to Vincent Coquet, each bird equally balanced in quality as if they were a set of quads. These birds are still etched in my mind today!
We started to make contact through e-mails but it was not until 2013 that I met Vincent again at the World Show in Hasselt, Belgium, where Vincent had again benched a stunning stam, this time of Silver Clear Cap hens gaining yet another Gold Medal.
Over the next two years I spent many hours travelling to British and European breeders’ bird rooms and shows searching for that elusive bird that would click with mine. I knew what I wanted but the bird just never materialised. Over the preceding years I was breeding some quality and successful but I was far from happy with my overall team.
In 2015 I decided after numerous e-mails with Vincent that I would make the long trip to Carbay, France, to visit the stud of Vincent et Colette. The trip itself presented its problems, how would I be able to communicate with Vincent? I called upon the services of my daughter Hannah. I arranged the flight for my daughter on 12th December 2015, my wife and I drove the long journey through the night collecting my daughter from Rennes airport on the way through. We arrived to gleaming smiles, you instantly felt warmth they were so welcoming.
I could feel the excitement from Vincent, he told me I was the first English Lizard breeder to visit him, it was extremely humbling and something that we treasure as a family. We spent the morning discussing a complete array of topics that we had seen: breeders, bird rooms and shows. Vincent et Collette’s accolades of many years were proudly displayed in all their glory in glass cabinets around the living room, it was a wonderful morning.
I never felt a language barrier in their company it was as if I had just called in on a friend to visit. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch prepared by Collette when the time finally arrived to enter the Coquets’ bird-room; I had been itching all morning.
Vincent et Collette showed me in to what I can only describe as the most wonderfully organised and well planned out bird-room I have ever visited; I have visited many!
Cleanliness was exceptional, Vincent had breeding cages that were fully aluminium, designed and made by him. They were immaculate and covered over after each breeding season, clean and ready for the next year’s season. There were interior cages housing his next world show birds, show cages housing the birds Vincent had selected for me, although Vincent had offered me any bird I wanted within his bird room, this was the generosity he naturally oozed. Internal flights, and external flights under cover, that had fully slide-able doors to allow the birds in to further outside exterior flights that were totally full of Bridals Veil Fallopian.
I remember taking the birds that I was selecting down one by one from their show cages in to the light to study. Collette told us that this was the same position Vincent took his birds to when making final selections. I had chosen the birds that I believed would give me the desired results I was after.
Whilst in the room Vincent asked me to run my eye over his world show stam of 4 broken cap gold hens, plus a Clear Cap Gold Hen. I was privileged to share my views and thoughts with Vincent, how the birds would be perceived in UK Judgement. This team and single bird, the only birds that Vincent sent, went on to win a Gold and Silver at the World Show in Matosinhos, Portugal, a measure of the quality running through his stud.
That day I believe we both knew instinctively, just by our actions, what each other was thinking or talking about regarding the Lizard. We both possessed the same passion; the bond had been sealed!
I left Vincent et Collette having shared an exceptional day, one I will never forget.
Although we continued with e-mail on progress, the next time I met Vincent again was in December 2017 at the Gouden Ring Show in Belgium where we exchanged birds to improve the studs further. As ever, Vincent et Collette greeted you with warmth. I can remember Collette calling with excitement loudly across the hall “Joseph, Joseph!” to gain my attention, it was just how they always were.
I hoped to meet Vincent at the World Show Cesena Italy 2018 but he could not attend. I entered some of the Lizards I had developed along the Coakley/Coquet bloodline. Although they did not come within the medal selections, I knew that the line was progressively moving forward in the right direction.
When my birds returned from Cesena, disaster struck. A few days later, my birds were dying. It was quickly evident that if I did not find the problem and a cure for it, it would wipe out my stud. Eventually the disease was diagnosed as Klebsiella, I was left totally devastated, with very few birds to carry on with.
Of the Coakley/Coquet Family line I had but three birds left: 2 females and 1 male. I paired these birds in 2019 with fate looking down on me, one pair clicked, and I produced a Non Cap Silver Hen that I went on to show at the Lizard Dag in Holland 2019, winning its class. It had everything I had seen in the stam of 2011, a cobby bird with a calm temperament having the desire to show exquisite spangles from the top of her beak right over the head down through to the base of the tail that never moved, individual rowings right through the body that were individual, she was full dark melanin.
One word from Vincent: magnifique ! I had the approval of a man I greatly admired.
In 2019 I was to attend the Gouden Ring, again to meet up with Vincent. I never made it but a friend kindly collected 2 cocks and 1 hen that Vincent had gifted to me following the Cesena disaster. In 2020 I paired both cock birds to 3 females, the Coquet female to 1 of the cock birds; they have produced significant numbers with my intention to just continue with the Coakley/Coquet family.
Vincent had been breeding Lizard Canaries for over 35 years with his wife Collette, they were always present together whereever they showed or were involved with the Lizard, a formidable team.
Vincent was part of the Technical Posture Canary Club, the CTP France that staged a show in different regions of France each year. He was also an avid supporter of the AOG (Amicale Ornithologigue Gironde) Bordeaux Show that was staged biannually, winning many titles. He also won titles in Metz, Castres, Gouden Ring, and numerous COM World Shows.
Vincent first entered the World stage in 1991 at Berne, Switzerland, where he achieved his first World medal. He continued to send his birds to the World stage up until 2020 always having that ability and quality to capture at least one of the Stam titles up for contention.
One of Vincent’s biggest achievements amongst numerous others which made him very proud was managing to gain acceptance of the broken cap lizard canary in the French classification (I include his transcript). He deemed the Broken Cap Lizard possibly as the most important bird in the breeding programme.
In 2020 he secured his final Gold Medal for a Stam of Silver Broken Cap Hens.
Vincent died on May 19th 2020 at the age of 62; he adored the Lizard Canary which was his great passion.
The opening quote is from my daughter Hannah! She met Vincent Coquet but once, this was the aura Vincent possessed. Colette Coquet has sent me the wonderful news that, although difficult, she is to continue Vincent’s legacy.
I will miss the French Connoisseur, we had such little time. Rest in peace dear Vincent.
- My thanks to Joe for his tribute and most of the photographs. I do not know the names of the photographers, but would be happy to credit them if any readers can enlighten me.
- I did not know Vincent as well as Joe, but I do have fond memories of his visit with Colette and family to the LCA Classic at Nottingham in 1997. I can only endorse Joe’s high opinion of Vincent as one of Europe’s great Lizard breeders.