VIDEO: Flight of fancy returns to resort

Have your say

Thousands of visitors homed in on the largest gathering of pigeon fanciers in the United Kingdom.

More than 10,000 people enjoyed the annual British Homing World Show of the Year at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, at the weekend.

British Homing Pigeon World Show of the Year 2015 at Blackpool Winter Gardens.  Jill Fisher with one of her pigeons.

British Homing Pigeon World Show of the Year 2015 at Blackpool Winter Gardens. Jill Fisher with one of her pigeons.

​The Royal Pigeon Racing Association​ event is ​a permanent fixture on the racing world calendar and has made Blackpool its home.

More than ​ 2​,​000 racing pigeons and 1​,​000 fancy pigeons ​were ​on display, a​long with more than 100 trade stands​.

Organiser Stuart Wardrop said the event had been a great success, with attendances possibly exceeding last year’s. He said a charity auction of pigeons had raised £10,000 for charity alone, with other events eventually helping to push the total higher.

The show, which has been in the resort since 1977, supports a range of causes, including a lung research charity, Age UK, Help the Aged, and St John Ambulance.

Pigeon fanciers can buy anything from a £25,000 mahogany loft to a bag of pigeon corn, while thousands of pigeons change hands ​during the weekend​.

Mr Wardrop said: “It has been another fantastic event for both us and Blackpool.

“We reckon it generates between £10m and £15m for the local economy – and we are here to stay.”

He said the booming numbers showed the popularity of pigeon fancying across the UK and added the showcase event was a great social occasion and a way of attracting more people to the sport, while raising cash for charity.

The two-day event also featured a g​ala ​e​vening at the Tower Ballroom​, with the entertainment provided by The Bradford Belles, ​vocal artist ​Stevie Stephenson, ​comedian ​Jo Little and band 70s Revamp.

​​The British Homing World Show of the Year was first conceived back in 1972 when the then RPRA General Manager Len Lewis came up with the idea of a national pigeon show.

With the assistance of fanciers in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire a show was put on in 1973 at the Doncaster Racecourse complex. As it grew the show moved to the Winter Gardens at Blackpool where it has remained.​ ​​

This year’s show brought back happy memories for pensioner Bert Hession, of St Walburga’s Road, Blackpool. It was his idea to bring the show to Blackpool in 1977 as it outgrew its original Doncaster venue.

Mr Hession, who was then president of the north west region of the RPRA, said there was competition from other towns like Preston and Manchester but he was adamant Blackpool would be the best.

He said: “It was a very proud moment when we signed the contract. The way the show took off was unbelievable.”

Wilson was named Supreme Show Champion 2015, with his owner Roland Thresher from Somerset.