On Wednesday 14th June the RPRA released 543 birds from Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes at the first Lords v Commons pigeon race since 1928. Each pigeon was designated to an MP or Peer. Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pigeon Racing Group, Chris Davies MP, was in attendance along with Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South.
90 years ago, the last Lords vs Commons race took place in the quadrangle of the House of Commons, the birds being released by Sir Cooper Rawson MP (below). Back then, pigeon racing was widely supported and respected by MPs and Peers, with a Lords v Commons race held every year. Fast forward to 2018 and this iconic race was recreated to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War One.
The race was shown support by many senior parliamentarians including the Prime Minister Theresa May, who sponsored five birds and The Lord Speaker. The birds’ home lofts were located in the surrounding areas of Pontefract in West Yorkshire, and the average flight time for each bird was two and a half hours.The event raised funds for the ex-serviceman’s charity, Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.
Here is the full start list and the top ten result is below.
Chris Davies MP comments: ‘The APPG hopes that the restoration of this race will encourage MPs to support pigeon racing once again and to make the Lords v Commons race an annual occurrence. The race was a huge success and we are delighted with the support already shown throughout parliament.’
Race Winner and MP for South Leicestershire Alberto Costa said: ‘I feel very honored that my faithful pigeon won the Parliamentary Pigeon Race upon its return to Westminster after a 90 year hiatus. The Pigeon Racing APPG has been doing some tremendous work in bringing back this important parliamentary tradition to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One, and I am delighted that all funds raised will be going towards the excellent veteran’s charity Combat Stress. I very much look forward to celebrating my victory and of course trying to defend my title next year.’
Clip courtesy of Forces TV
Colin Clark, Chair of Pigeon Racing UK & Ireland, added: ‘We were delighted with the support shown by MPs and members of the public for the Lords v Commons pigeon race. We hope this will raise the profile of pigeon racing and its great British heritage. Bletchley Park provided a perfect location for the race with its incredible history and its exhibition highlighting the role played by pigeons throughout both World Wars. We are hopeful that this race will be reinstated annually.’
The winning pigeon – GB16R25375 – has now been named Alberto by its trainer, Mr Pickard of Hemsworth.
Click on a thumbnail below to see a gallery of images from the event.