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Skelton Armed Forces Day

On the 25th June, the village of Skelton in Cumbria held its inaugural Armed Forces Day Event. The Brydekirk Homing Lofts and fellow fanciers supplied the school with over 60 pigeons to participate in one of the day’s key events. The Primary School children were given the opportunity to each select and name a pigeon ready for the big race home to Brydekirk. On the day, at precisely 3pm, the Mayor of Penrith released the pigeons from the field at the back of Skelton school to fly the 27 miles to Brydekirk, and the pigeon fanciers recorded their arrival times.

Armed Forces Day is a chance to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets. There are many ways for people, communities and organisations across the country to show their support for the armed forces but this has to be one of the most unique approaches.

The child who selected the winning pigeon, ‘Max Height’, received a prize and there was also a prize for the person who guessed the closest time of arrival of the first pigeon home – an experience flight at Carlisle Airport!

As part of a series of initiatives to educate pupils on the contribution of our Armed Forces the children had been learning about the role of carrier pigeons in WW2 and those that received a Dickin Medal for their efforts. Not surprisingly, the topic of homing pigeons was the most enthusiastically received and the arrival of the pigeons on the 25th June caused huge excitement amongst the children.

The pigeons were the star act of the day. After a temporary delay in proceedings due to weather, the event grew from strength to strength and all the attendees, participants and assistants thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The Mayor of Penrith said that releasing the pigeons was one of the more unusual requests he had received during his term in office but definitely one of the most enjoyable.

As well as highlighting awareness of the Armed Forces throughout the community, the event generated a considerable amount towards Armed Forces Charities, local Guiding Units and Skelton Primary School (almost £1500 in total).

A huge thank you to the Brydekirk lofts and fellow fanciers for supplying the pigeons during one of their busiest racing weeks. Also, a special thank you to Dennis Anderson and Scott Irving for their financial donation in support of the event.

The Mayor of Penrith is keen to repeat the event and hopes that the pigeons will remain the star act for future years.


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