Peel Hall Primary School in Manchester has achieved the accolade of coming first out of 20 schools in the Royal Pigeon Racing Association’s (RPRA) Southern One Loft Race – Hot Spot 2 & 3. The races, which are part of series of annual races held across the UK, took place on Sunday 23 August and Sunday 30 August, and saw the school up against 798 other teams in the Hot Spot 2 race and 769 teams in the Hot Spot 3 race.

For the Hot Spot 2 race, the pigeons took to the skies in Ashbourne, Derbyshire at 10:25am and traveled the 70 miles to their destination in Birtsmorton, Worcestershire. Out of the 20 schools competing, Peel Hall Primary’s pigeon came first, completing the Hot Spot 2 race by 12:07pm. In the Hot Spot 3 race, the birds were liberated at 8:00am in Worksop, Nottinghamshire and flew 103 miles to their destination in Birtsmorton – Peel Hall Primary’s pigeon finished the race by 9:33am.

Not only was Peel Hall Primary crowned the winning school, it also took home the top prize of £100 for each race.

Entry to the race is free for educational establishments and there is a range of monetary prizes which the schools could win, totalling £2,800.

Normally when a pigeon race takes place, all the birds race back to their different owners’ lofts. However, in a One Loft Race, all the pigeons race back to one single loft where they live together. When they are young, the pigeons are trained to fly short distances back to their loft, and the distance is gradually increased. When the One Loft Race season starts, liberations are held at different ‘Hot Spots’ meaning the birds have to race increasingly long distances.

The climactic final race was held in early September and was 235 miles. The winner of the grand finale took home £25,000.

The RPRA is passionate about encouraging the next generation into the sport of Pigeon Racing. The organisation supports primary schools across the UK via its interactive educational initiative, providing children with the opportunity to learn about the history of pigeon racing, including its important role during both World Wars, and how to care for the birds. The RPRA also provides funding to schools enabling them to build their own pigeon lofts on site.

Alec Smith, the Acting Deputy Head of Peel Hall Primary says: “We are over the moon with coming first in both the Hot Spot 2 & 3 races. We’re very proud of our pigeons and the pupils will be delighted with this result. We would also like to thank our sponsors James Cook from Tumley Lofts, Andy Gregson, Sean Reading, Brian Murray and Ray Grimshaw.”

Ian Evans, the CEO of the RPRA says: “The annual One Loft Pigeon Race has always been a big occasion for us. It’s a privilege to have so many schools take part in the race this year and we look forward to helping support more schools join our initiative and helping young pupils learn more about pigeon racing and our community. Congratulations to Peel Hall Primary for coming first out of the 20 schools that took part in the Hot Spot two and three races.”