Pigeon lovers flock to city convention

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One of the bird at the Liverpool convention of the Royal Pigeon Racing Associatiom. Pic © David Haycocks JMUJournalism

Bird fanatics swooped to the Liverpool exhibition centre to meet like-minded people and take part in the Royal Pigeon Racing Association’s UK Olympiad this weekend.

The event, which brought people from all over the country, gave ‘twitchers’ a chance to see the birds which will be taking part in the 36th Pigeon Olympiad in Poland next year.

The RPRA, which has existed since 1896, is the UK’s governing body for the sport and it managed to attract dozens of people to the showcase.

Racing usually runs in families as a tradition. A member of the promotions team at RPRA and pigeon racer, Richard Chambers, 33, from Staffordshire told JMU Journalism: “I’m the third or fourth generation of pigeon flyers. My dad had them, my grandad had them and my great grandad had them.

“My main encouragement was my dad and he won the national in 1997, the Midland National Flying Club from Bordeaux which is 553 miles, and 1,500 pigeons went to that. He came first which is quite a prestigious thing.”

Homing pigeons are smart creatures who can never actually get lost as they will always return to their home. They even carried messages during world wars and were regarded as heroes for the vital role they played.

One of the event organisers, Ian Evans, 44, from Wales told JMU Journalism: “Recently there was research saying pigeons are very intelligent animals. If you think about it you can take it hundreds of miles away from its home somewhere it’s never been before and it can get home at an average of 50/60 miles an hour.”

The RPRA has a rich history with both the former Prince of Wales and the Duke of York starting the royal tradition in their club. Even the Queen herself has continued the family connection.

A new initiative called ‘young fanciers’ looks to get youths involved in pigeon racing and to put their energies into something positive. The RPRA visits schools and reaches out to the disabled as officials believe it can be therapeutic for people suffering with disabilities.