Sports left our screens, and our day-to-day lives, back in March due to nationwide government lockdown guidelines and subsequent social distancing rules. Football fans, rugby regulars and basketball buffs instead embraced isolation, temporarily parting ways with their favourite hobbies. Fortunately, with lockdown and guidelines now easing, we’re slowly being given the go-ahead to get back out on the field. Among the sports regaining momentum is pigeon racing, an activity which has become one of the first outdoor hobbies to return, delighting fanciers across the country.
We are proud to represent the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA), the governing body of pigeon racing. This group commits itself to the needs of pigeons and their owners, providing invaluable guidance and support for British fanciers. Once the RPRA had decided that pigeon racing could return, clubs across the country began to make necessary preparations.
On Monday 1 June, the Barnsley Federation of Racing Pigeons released 4,465 pigeons from a park, allowing them to fly a 90 mile journey home. The RPRA organises and oversees races like this across the country, supporting the development and popularity of this cherished and historic activity.
During lockdown, many of us struggled with loneliness whilst adapting to the demands of self-isolation. This has certainly been a challenging, unprecedented period to which we have all had to adjust. However, pigeon racing, and subsequently caring for pigeons, is an activity which has brought the RPRA’s members an invaluable sense of solace and comfort. For example, John Greenshield, the Barnsley Federation of Racing Pigeons, has described the importance of pigeon racing in supporting members’ mental health, saying: “Racing is something for people to get out of bed for. People are really looking forward to it.” This activity, and its long-awaited return, is making this journey a little more manageable for pigeon fanciers.
The success of this race has marked a tremendous return for pigeon racing, reflecting the RPRA’s excitement to once again enjoy this traditional, iconic activity. Meanwhile, we are delighted to represent the RPRA as it prepares for a busy few months; we are excited to see their upcoming races unfold and watch all of its members, including an increasing number of young people, again explore the history of pigeon racing. As the RPRA continues to raise awareness of pigeon racing, this return promises to create a successful few months for the organisation.
If you’re interested in pigeon fancying, local clubs or the history of pigeon racing, then get in touch with the RPRA; it truly is an exceptional group committed to sustaining an activity which has helped to shape our country. From our world wars to present day, pigeons lie at the heart of Britain.