FLEDGLING pigeon fanciers have been given the royal helping hand after a disaster struck their flock.
The Queen gave youngsters at Longshaw Primary School in Blackburn one of her racing pigeons when a group visited her Sandringham estate.
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The school started to keep a flock of pigeons at an allotment in Oswaldtwistle in 2015 but a cat got into the enclosure and wiped out all but one.
A company called Belgica, based in the south, heard of the pupil’s plight and arranged for new birds to be donated to them and a trip to the Royal Loft at Sandringham was also arranged.
Deputy headteacher Jonathan Berry said: “It was a fantastic trip and the children really enjoyed it. One of the group said that it was the best day of his life.
“It’s a dying sport and it’s great that we have so many pupils getting into it.
“I’m really keen to introduce it to the pupils as it includes so many subjects like maths, history and science.
“Not many of our children get to go outside of Blackburn so if nothing else it was a great trip from that point of view as they have never been to anywhere like Sandringham.”
During the visit the pupils were gifted one of the Queen’s racing pigeons.
The bird, which has not yet been named, is one of a select few in the world that can wear a ring with the initials "ER".
The new flock is homed at Mr Berry’s allotment in Oswald-twistle and used at school as part of the curriculum.
Mr Berry added: “The child-ren were introduced to the sport last year when we were visited by Peter Hargreaves, a member of the Oswaldtwistle Homing Society.
“They all loved it and we thought that it would be a good idea to get birds of our own.
“The educational benefits are great and it’s a unique thing to have as part of the school.
“We are currently trying to find out whether our newest addition to our flock of 15 is male or female and we will choose a name then we have found that out.”