Pigeon Racing is More Than Just a Hobby for 17-Year-Old Ellie Davidson Who Suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Pigeon racing has changed the life of 17-year-old Ellie Davidson, from Driffield who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME). The birds have had an incredible impact on her social life, confidence and given her an enjoyable hobby to share with her family.
Ellie suffers from ME, a medical condition characterised by long-term fatigue and other symptoms which limit a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. Ellie’s mother, Susan, believes that the birds have had an amazing affect in helping with the condition and does not know where her daughter would be without them.
Some sports can be challenging for children with conditions that limit their ability to carry out daily activities. ME creates specific challenges and last year, the condition took control of Ellie’s muscles which left her on crutches. Ellie spent last year being home tutored and lost touch with school friends throughout this period, leaving her feeling low in confidence and lonely.
Ellie took inspiration from her Stepfather, Sam Jackson, to take up the sport of pigeon racing. Sam has been racing pigeons since 2004 and wanted to take a short break from the sport whilst he travelled to Alaska to start working with Huskies. Ellie and Susan looked after the birds whilst Sam was away. Sam was amazed when he came home to see how well Ellie and her mother had cared for the youngsters.
Pigeon racing presented a great opportunity for Ellie as the sport offers social interaction with other members of clubs and federations. Looking after racing pigeons also takes commitment and dedication, providing her with a sense of responsibility helping to promote increased independence and self-confidence. The birds act as a distraction and provide Ellie with an outlet to be in her own space and speak freely. Even when Ellie was on crutches she enjoyed going out to visit the pigeon loft.
Susan Davidson, Ellie’s mother comments: “The community of pigeon fanciers and members within the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) have been amazing in including Ellie in the sport. Last year Ellie was awarded the RPRA Young Fancier Award which recognises achievement in racing and commitment to the sport. Ellie and I help out at our local club frequently and I am the Secretary. We had the chance to go to Leeds were Ellie picked up two awards and also the Blackpool Show where Ellie achieved three more awards and a cash prize.”
David Higgins, Secretary of the North East Region, was inspired by Ellie’s story and offered to pay for her to enter the final One Loft Race of the season in 2018. Ellie’s Stepfather was heading to Alaska for the winter and asked a friendly face within the pigeon community, Stuart Watson, if he would breed a bird for Ellie as they previously had success in the One Loft race when racing together. Stuart was delighted at the opportunity and bred a healthy bird which Ellie called Denali.
Most people enter five or six birds into the race however Ellie entered Denali only, on behalf of her school – East Riding College. The 240-mile race took place on Monday 10 September from Alnwick to Birtsmorton and Denali came sixth out of 810 birds. Ellie and her college were delighted with the outcome and have received an amazing prize of £1,800.
Ian Evans, CEO of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association comments: “It is an absolute delight for the RPRA to have amazing people like Ellie Davidson representing our sport. We are proud to know how much the birds have changed Ellie’s life for the better and we know that she is going to be a super star within the pigeon community. Her achievements have been incredible already and we expect her to fly through the next season.”