Film plan for Doncaster and Belton’s rags to riches royal falcon breeder

Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam

He’s made a fortune breeding falcons for Middle-Eastern royalty – and now a film is set to be made about his life.

Doncaster breeder Bryn Close has been in business for 15 years raising birds of prey for clients including the Crown Prince of Dubai.

Bryn Close, pictured with one of his falcons. Picture: Marie Caley NDOS 01-06-15 Falcons MC 3

Bryn Close, pictured with one of his falcons. Picture: Marie Caley NDOS 01-06-15 Falcons MC 3

Now he has revealed his rags-to-riches story has moved a high-profile filmmaker to plan a feature film about how he built up a glamorous and successful business from scratch.

Bryn, who operates his business from a site on West Moor Lane, Armthorpe, said: “It is the man who made the television drama Our Zoo who is looking at doing the film.

“I’ve led a colourful life and they want to make a drama about me.

“I’m not surprised they want to do that as I have had quite a life. It’s a rag-to- riches story – I was brought up in poverty. A lot of people know about me and the success I have had.

Bryn Close, pictured with one of his falcons. Picture: Marie Caley NDOS 01-06-15 Falcons MC 1

Bryn Close, pictured with one of his falcons. Picture: Marie Caley NDOS 01-06-15 Falcons MC 1

“People are interested.

“I gather they have cast an actor called Charlie Hunnam to play me. I don’t know how involved I will be in making the film.”

Bryn, aged 61, only took up breeding and racing birds as a hobby after turning his life around following a tough upbringing. He grew up in poverty, one of eight children living in a two-room flat in Newcastle.

He became homeless at 15 after a fight with his dad, then slept rough for a time.

Bryn rented a field and turned it into a motocross track and, with the money that came in, he started buying birds.

He said: “I’d made a lot of money and had a lovely house but I told my wife Shirley it wasn’t enough for me, so I sold the house, got out of the racetrack business and spent all my cash on falcons.

“I was determined to breed the world’s fastest birds.”

He has been in the business for 15 years and is one of the world’s top falcon breeders.

Word of his ability spread to the Middle East, and he was offered £12 million for his business – but he turned the offer down and instead reached an agreement to supply birds to the would-be buyer.

He said: “Nothing beats the pleasure of working with these beautiful creatures.

“I have to pinch myself to believe how my life has turned out.”

Bryn says falcon racing is hugely popular in the Middle East.

At the last falcons super final, the fastest seven birds were all bred by him and his team.

Now, to increase the number of falcons he can train, Bryn plans to open a second facility in Belton, near Doncaster.

He said: “I don’t know why I have so much success, other than that our birds have the best conditions. By the time they get to 12 to 14 weeks old they are shipped out.

“Falconry was dying out over there, but a sheikh started the racing between other sheikhs around 12 years ago.

“Two years ago it was opened up to the public too, and the demand for British falcons has gone through the roof.

“Over here I am Joe Bloggs, but over there they have me on a pedestal.”

Bryn’s current business, Marra Falcons, is based in Armthorpe – with space for hundreds of falcons to be bred a year.

He breeds exclusively for the Crown Prince of Dubai, but his new site will branch out to supply others. The new facility, on Hagg Lane in Belton, will be called Bin Marra Falcons – providing birds for buyers in Abu Dhabi.

Building work is due to start later this year.

Bryn has spent more than £2m developing the Armthorpe site, but describes working with falcons as ‘paradise’.

The birds learn to fly in large cylindrical ‘hack pens’ and are fed a diet mostly made up of quail, rats and pheasant.

The site at Belton is set to have space for around 230 falcons when it is complete.