Doo the right thing
Pigeon racing is a sport which dates from the time when the Greeks used pigeons to carry messages warning the people of approaching invaders. As a sport it has been a favourite among Maybole men for many years and a Racing Pigeon Club has been in existence since 1910. It is now providing innovative opportunities for young boys who might not otherwise engage with their local community and is a way of ensuring that the cultural heritage is both rekindled and kept alive.
A member of Maybole Club, who no longer had his own loft, was approached by the community safety officer with the aim of supporting four vulnerable young people in taking responsibility for the care and development of a team of racing pigeons. They would be responsible for feeding, cleaning, assisting in training, and in all aspects of maintaining a healthy pigeon loft. The four selected gained significantly both in confidence and in social skills. They were given free membership of the club, and participated in racing with the Ayrshire North Road Federation for the duration of the season. During this period they acquired the skills and discipline needed to maintain the pigeon loft and achieve success in raising and racing their birds. Also, as a result of working on the project, the original volunteer is now able to race pigeons again, giving him a new lease of life. Diplomas were presented at the end of the year and three of the boys completed badges towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
A class-related project was also run in Cairn Primary School. After an introductory presentation, each pupil was assigned a pigeon, and then received regular updates on its performance throughout the season. All 23 pupils involved received certificates, and prizes were given to the winning pigeons in each of the races.
The project also benefited the club as a whole. All the club members commented on the positive attitude of the young people involved in the initiative. Whereas the boys might have been stereotyped in the past as uninterested or unreliable, the older men are now enjoying passing on their experience and knowledge as they see them performing in a responsible and sustained way.
Members of Carrick and District Homing Society have recently secured £11,500 from Awards for All and Ayrshire Leader funding. This will be used to build a new clubhouse including a pool table, table tennis, etc., to make the premises more appealing to younger people. Articles about the project appeared both in the local and in the national specialist press, and it was featured on BBC Reporting Scotland. Carrick and District Homing Society worked closely with South Ayrshire‘s Community Safety Department to deliver this project.