Queen gives lags pigeons

Queen Elizabeth has donated three racing pigeons to a young offender’s institution.

The monarch gave the pigeons – which include a breeding pair – to the Wetherby Young Offenders’ Institution in West Yorkshire to encourage inmates to take up the hobby.

Inmate Adam Bird said: “It was very kind of Her Majesty to give us the birds and we’ll take great care of them. Now I have this interest, there’s no way I’ll get into trouble again when I get out.”

Each of the pigeons has the queen’s ER insignia on a ring on its leg. The queen – who has pigeon lofts at her Norfolk estate Sandringham – gifted the birds after prison officer Paul Hemmings wrote to her. He was keen to get pigeons for the centre but was shocked to discover they can cost up to £100,000.

He said: “We plan to start racing the pigeons next year and have them fly back to their loft inside the prison. Lads like Adam are massively keen on it all. If it results in one less crime, it’s worthwhile.”

Governor Will Styles added: “There is an 80 per cent re-offending rate among young males, so it is vital to try to do things here to help them keep out of trouble.

“They often face peer pressure to re-offend when they are released – which is why giving them a hobby and an interest is so important.”