A DEDICATED pigeon fancier whose Castleford allotment went up in flames last year has been given a state-of-the-art pigeon loft worth thousands of pounds.
Paul Winchurch, 47, lost 200 birds in a blaze, which wiped out several allotments in Redhill Avenue last year.
But his devotion to continuing pigeon racing won him the admiration of the Normanton and District Federation Homing Pigeon Society, which has donated the £2,000 loft.
He said: “When I got the call from the federation I thought it was a wind-up. They said I’d kept up with the pigeons so they had decided to buy me a new loft.
“They’ve seen I didn’t just pack it in and walk away after the fire. It means I can start again. I’m building it back up, this year I should be able to breed 40 young pigeons.”
Neil Messenger, secretary of the federation, said: “Paul is part of our organisation and we thought if he went a long time without a hut it would be detrimental to him.
“So we thought it imperative we get him up and running as soon as possible.”
The allotment was reduced to a pile of rubble after the fire last April destroyed caravans, greenhouses and garden machinery, claiming hundreds of valuable birds, including geese, ducks and quails.
Mr Winchurch, of Fryston Road, said: “I think vandals broke in and threw some petrol about. We’ve cleared it and started again – I just hope they leave it alone this time.
“We’ve got cameras and a warden walking around the yard now and a neighbourhood watch group are going to help out.”
Mr Winchurch is naming his loft after his grandson, who was stillborn in October.
He said: “I’ve decided to name it ‘Jayden’s loft’, after my grandson. I’m going to get a plaque made up and I want to thank the federation for all they’ve done.
“This loft is 100 per cent better than the one I had, it’s out of this world.”