Young Heather Davies makes a name for herself in pigeon racing
SCHOOLGIRL Heather Davies is following her homing instinct and making a name for herself in pigeon racing.
At just seven years-old she spends all her free time lovingly looking after and training her seven prized pigeons.
Heather has her own loft in the back garden and is committed to making sure her feathered friends are high-fliers in the world's biggest pigeon races.
She picked up her love of pigeons from her father Jeremy who is the manager of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association's (RPRA) One Loft in Cheltenham.
Even though the birds may be considered a nuisance to some, Heather treats her birds as the sporting elite. She feeds and cleans them before and after school, and cherishes them for their speed and bloodlines.
Her hobby also means she's a whizz when it comes to geography. She knows all about cities and the distances between them as she records the routes her pigeons take.
Heather, who rather aptly lives with her parents in a cottage called 'Pigeon House', has always been an animal-lover growing up with horses, lambs, and cats.
She said: "I love all the animals around here, but my favourite are the birds.
"I like to go down to the club with my Dad to speak to the other people at the club, and I like taking care of my pigeons everyday." Heather, who lives near Tewkesbury, has been a racing pigeon fancier since she was just five-years-old and has entered her pigeons into many races.
Her dad Jeremy said: "She just loves going in to the loft and picking them up, she's done it since she was young.
"It was her love of animals that got her started, and although I let her choose her own path, I think she must have picked it up from me."
Pigeons are slowly trained from birth until they are old enough to fly back home from far distances.
The birds are then clocked according to distance and time, with the quickest average velocity winning races.
Heather's favourite pigeon is Daisy, who was born in May. The bird has already raced about four times, including a race in France, when she came in 5th out of 42 birds. Jeremy praised his daughter's tender nature in bringing up and training the birds.
He said: "She's also learning the geography of places as she goes around to release the birds on a race, and tracks them coming home."
Heather appeared on BBC One's Breakfast News on Saturday to try to attract a new generation to pigeon racing.