Borders pigeon fanciers doo the right thing

A new season of pigeon racing begins in the Borders this weekend against the background of a fresh local surge of support for the sport.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 11:07 am
Updated Thursday, 29th April 2021, 1:31 pm
Borders Distillery founder and director John Fordyce, releases a pigeon with racing federation joint secretary Harry Keddie and president Mike Upton (picture by Bill McBurnie)

Several new fanciers have joined clubs within the Borders Federation, while a generous sponsorship gesture from a local business means prizes are on offer for this season too.

Two races had to be dropped from the calendar earlier this month because of Covid-19 regulations but the first race of 2021 takes place this Saturday, May 1, to Otterburn in the north east of England.

It’s a relatively short distance to start with, but the pigeons will be covering greater mileage through the season as their homing instinct kicks in – including the longest event, 300 miles or so to Billericay in Essex.

Around half a dozen new fanciers have joined up – some are new to the Borders area but have old links to the sport, while others have turned to pigeon racing after a previous background in show pigeons.

The membership is now fairly well spread out – with enthusiasts in Birgham, Kelso, Selkirk, Galashiels, Stow, Fountainhall, Innerleithen and Walkerburn – while the federation itself is composed of four clubs, Hawick, Jedburgh, Earlston and Galashiels.

The group has over 30 lofts across these towns but many work in partnership, so around 50 people are affiliated in the actual flying of the birds.

There are 17 races in total scheduled for this season – nine old bird races, the last of which is to Billericay on June 19, and eight young bird races.

A very kind display of local support has come from the Borders Distillery in Hawick, where director John Fordyce has agreed to put up a bottle of whisky for three owners in each race, while also arranging to have the prizes sent to their homes.

“It’s fantastic,” said Harry Keddie, joint secretary with his wife Diane of both the federation and the Hawick club.

“It’s a good news story, with the fact we have new members and the distillery being located in Hawick.”

The group was “indebted” to Mr Fordyce for his generosity and show of support, added Harry, while his enthusiasm was inspiring.