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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 06:01 GMT 07:01 UK
'Give pigeon racing sport status'
Pigeon racing is popular in many parts of Wales
Pigeon fanciers in north Wales have backed a call by MP Peter Law to make pigeon racing an official sport.

Mr Law - the only independent Welsh MP - has tabled a parliamentary question to UK Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Tessa Jowell, asking for the pastime to be recognised.

If racing was classified as a sport, pigeon fanciers could be eligible to receive grants from sports councils.

At present, they are not allowed to apply for public funds available.

Grant hopes

Blaenau Gwent MP Mr Law said: "Pigeon racing is a long-standing cultural tradition in working class communities, but they get no funding at all."

Mr Law has previously raised the issue with the Sports Council for Wales and the Welsh Sports Minister Alun Pugh.

It's the same as horse racing and greyhound racing
Pigeon fancier Gareth Jones

The MP's call has been backed by members of Rhos Social Flying Club, near Wrexham, who said the pastime deserved full recognition as a sport.

Club members said the activity would benefit if pigeon fanciers could receive grants from sports councils, and it would help attract younger people to the activity.

Gareth Jones, 70, who has around 50 birds, said the activity should be placed alongside other sports involving animals.

He added: "I've been racing pigeons for over 60 years and this is my hobby.

"I'm living on my own and I've got nothing else in life - only the pigeons.

"It's a sport and I love it.

"It's the same as horse racing and greyhound racing."

Fellow club member David Hughes, who owns 60 birds, said pigeon racing was becoming an increasingly popular pastime and required great skill.

"There's an awful lot of work in pigeon racing," he said.

"I spent hours with my pigeons - the wife always knows where I am."

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