Our Secretary Peter Cannan receiving the Zebra Finch Society Allen Silver Award 2020

                                                     (photo Frank Dawson)



Each year the Allen Silver award, named after the first President of the ZFS, is presented to one of our members. This award is made by the Committee to a Member in recognition of their service on behalf of the ZFS, and our hobby in general. To be nominated and be honoured with the silver salver is a great compliment, and for 2020 the Committee decided that it should go to the General Secretary Peter Cannan.

Peter was born in Plymouth in 1953 and has lived there for the most part of his life (although he did move to Northamptonshire for a brief spell between 1993 and 2000). A keen sportsman, in his schooldays he represented Plymouth Schools at football. Later he was chosen to represent the Civil Service as a cricketer. These days he is chiefly known for his strong support for Plymouth Argyle, attending many home and away matches each year.

Whilst still a junior he joined Plymouth Budgerigar and Foreign Bird Society in 1966, and it was there he met two enthusiastic keepers of Zebra Finches, Ken Glasson (who subsequently moved to Australia) and Roy Mansfield. Peter still recalls spending many happy Sunday mornings in Roy Mansfield’s birdroom, and being amazed by his hundred or so pure white Zebras. The upshot was that Peter acquired his first Whites, a colour in which he still specialises today.

He first Joined the ZFS almost 50 years ago in 1973. He also joined the South Western ZFC at about the same time. At this point he was working in the Civil Service. As his work and family commitments grew heavier (he generated a very full nest of nine children, and now has numerous grandchildren)it meant that Zebras had to be put on the back burner for quite a while, and so his progression in the fancy was put “on hold” until he was able to return and play a more active role in the mid-eighties. Peter had first exhibited Zebras locally while still at school, but on his return he exhibited more widely at both local shows and those further afield. He remembers on one occasion doing both the Scottish ZFS and the South Western ZFC with fellow Zebra man John Leonard on the same weekend, involving a lot of overnight travelling!

In addition to his favoured Whites, Peter recalls being introduced to Pieds by two acknowledged masters of this mutation, Alan Dunford and Alf Smith, and their bloodlines soon found their way into his stock. He progressed steadily through the novice ranks, being promoted to champion for the 1994 show season. Subsequently he joined the Judges Panel in 1997.

Peter’s abilities in the more administrative side of the hobby were probably first noted when he became editor of the South Western newsletter in 1989, and one of the features he developed was a “Top 20 Exhibitors” chart. This subsequently in the ZFS Magazine for a number of years (1992-97). He first joined the ZFS Committee in 1994, and briefly became Assistant General Secretary to Gerald Massey, the then Secretary/Treasurer, for 1996/97.

It was not until 2003 that he re-joined the Committee as Patronage Secretary and at the 2008 AGM he volunteered to take over as General Secretary, a position he is very proud to still hold 12 years later. He is also a Vice-President of the Society since 2005. In his time he has also held s number of positions in the South Western ZFC, and at one time he was a Committee member and Panel Judge for the National Bengalese Fanciers Association.

In 2006 Peter’s personal life took a dramatic turn, and he was on the point of giving up, but the late Alan Dunford stepped in with an offer to form a partnership “Dunford and Cannan”. This was logical as both were Pied and White specialists and Peter was delighted to accept.. Peter recalls that just before their partnership was formed both he and Alan  had each entered 7 pairs in the White breeder class at an Exeter show, and Alan took all first seven places, leaving Peter trailing! Sadly, Alan Dunford died in 2012, and Peter relocated all the Partnership’s birds to Plymouth.

Peter was awarded the Allen Silver award for the first time in 2010

In addition to his on-going work as General Secretary, Peter has added the roles of Ring Secretary and organiser of the ZFS Club Show, having organised the last three events at Stratford-on-Avon, Nuneaton, and the 2019 show at Bugbrooke, and although the 2020 show had to be aborted, he hopes to continue until the 2022 show. After that he plans to retire, having completed 50 years ZFS membership He has also been tasked with organising the 70th Anniversary of the formation of the ZFS. Peter’s huge workload for the Society over the last decade makes him a worthy winner of the Allen Silver Award for 2020.

(with thanks to Dennis Webster the ZFS President for this article)


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