Richard Miller is a Partner and Head of Property at Burnetts solicitors, but on the side he’s also something of a celebrity in the budgie world…

Richard, 38, from Burgh By Sands, Carlisle, started out at Burnetts solicitors – one of the largest law firms in the north - on work experience at the age of 15. Twenty three years later he now oversees the Agribusiness, Banking, Commercial Property and Residential Conveyancing teams. He’s also a co-owner and Director, with his wife Sarah, of Carwash Cafe in Carlisle, Cumbria Storage Solutions based in Wigton and Workington, and manages the family commercial property portfolio. On top of that, he, along with his dad Michael, is a three-time world champion in the world of exhibition budgerigars.


Dad and I breed and exhibit pedigree budgerigars. We have two aviaries and keep around 1000 birds at any one time.

I got into the hobby because I wasn’t allowed a dog! I was eight years old and I desperately wanted a pet – a dog in particular and I wasn’t allowed one, but a neighbour suggested to my parents that we get some pet budgies, so my brother and I got one each.

My mum likes a clean house (to put it mildly) so dad built a flight in the garage. The flight was too big for just two birds so we bought some more and pet budgies breed like mice, so that quickly multiplied. Dad is from farming stock, so he said “let’s get some pedigree ones and I’ll build you an aviary so that you can do this properly” and that’s exactly what we did.

What the hobby entails is that you have the breeding season every year and then you have the show season starting in early summer until October time. We breed anything from 500 – 700 birds a year.

We won the highest accolade you can win within the hobby, winning Best in Show at the Budgerigar Society World Championship Show – the budgie equivalent of Crufts. We’ve won this award three times (only one other person in the history of the hobby, dating back 150 years, has ever won it more than twice).

Once you become known in this field, thanks to the wonder of the internet and social media, you become something of a celebrity in the budgie world. I’m also a qualified judge and get invited to judge competitions all over the world. I’m also a guest speaker/lecturer and have been lucky enough to have judged and conducted presentations in various parts of the world but most notably across Europe, in Las Vegas, California and Kuwait.

The hobby requires an eye for detail and a working knowledge of pedigrees and stocksmanship. My dad and I work extremely well together and bring different skills to the table which has allowed us to succeed in the hobby since our first major win in 1999 on the world stage, through to the present day. Our success has also led to a very successful business aspect to the hobby where we sell birds all over the UK, Europe and around the world – we regularly export birds as far as the USA, Canada, Kuwait, Pakistan, China and India.

The hobby allowed me to develop a lot of life skills that I’ve been able to utilise in my career – at an early age I had to develop good communication skills and could confidently do presentations – these attributes and many more have helped me in my role at Burnetts. I’m lucky that Burnetts is supportive of my outside interests and has always let me fit my annual leave around preparing for the World Championships and travel associated with the hobby.

In terms of my aims for the future, reaching the top of this hobby is hard enough but staying there is even more of a challenge. Therefore, we are still as passionate about it as we were when we started and we will continue to work hard to maintain our place on the world stage.

As you can imagine, this hobby wasn’t the coolest of interests to share with your school or work colleagues. I was bullied at school as a result of my interest and would often be called “Budgie Boy” (and not in an affectionate way!). Having enjoyed the success that we have from the hobby, the opportunity to travel and meet friends from across the globe, I’m very proud of my hobby and can now look back at the people who knocked me with a smile on my face. As testimony to this, the number plate on my Range Rover Sport is BU61 BOY... I feel like I got the last laugh.