Spalding racing pigeon Willo brings £2,000 joy to special school

Eileen and Roger Rout donated more than �2,000 to Willoughby School after their pigeon, Willo, was successful in races. ANL-151215-164110001
Eileen and Roger Rout donated more than �2,000 to Willoughby School after their pigeon, Willo, was successful in races. ANL-151215-164110001
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A racing pigeon bred in Spalding has won a little over £2,000 for a special school in Bourne.

The cash gift will help the school’s £30,000 project to install a special outdoor swing so youngsters in wheelchairs can experience one of the everyday joys of childhood.

Pigeon fancier Roger Rout (72) has lived and breathed racing pigeons all of his life, following in the footsteps of his dad George, known as ‘Nona’.

Roger and his wife Eileen have strong links with The Willoughby School at Bourne as he’s a school transport driver and she is an escort for the pupils who have profound, severe and complex learning needs.

Roger has donated cash to the school over several years from pigeon race winnings.

“Last year it was £530 but this year it was a bit luckier and it was just over £2,000,” said Roger.

His latest fundraising pigeon, named Willo by the school, left Roger at about 24 days old to go to Cheltenham and ultimately race under the One Loft banner.

Willo was the third fastest out of 1,500 pigeons over eight races.

Roger says Eileen is a great devotee of pigeon racing and the great-grandparents’ birds compete under the name of Mr and Mrs R J Rout in the Peterborough Central Federation.

They have won trophies and had top three places in competitions.

Roger said there’s a real art to winning and that includes giving pigeons the right food for the right race.

But he also says winning isn’t everything.

“You get a real sense of achievement when a bird comes in from 500 miles away, even if it hasn’t won,” said Roger.

He said very few people are taking up pigeon racing these days as the birds are an all-year-round commitment.

Willoughby School headteacher James Husbands described Roger’s donation as “absolutely wonderful”.

He said the £2,000 won by Willo takes the school very close to its target for the swing that will accommodate children in wheelchairs.

Mr Husbands said: “We have known Roger for a number of years.

“He has had a long association with the school and every year he makes donations from his winnings.

“He is an incredibly lovely chap and a great supporter of the school.”