FATHER and son team John and Kevin Zerafa are on ‘cloud nine’ after their star pigeon won a national race.
The birds of a feather pair competed against fellow pigeon racers in The National Flying Club’s race in France with their bird Eastern Angel, who beat nearly 3,000 other pigeons.
John, 73, of Baffins, said: ‘I was on cloud nine for about five days.’
Together they have been racing pigeons for 23 years and take part in the five races put on by The National Flying Club each year.
Kevin, 35, said: ‘I was taken aback. I cried when I was told I had won. It is my hobby, my passion and my love.’
Each bird was marked with an electronic tag and released from the starting point to make their way back to their loft.
Bred for racing, Eastern Angel travelled more than 170 miles at a speed of 45mph in three hours and 15 minutes back to the pair’s house in Baffins.
Kevin said: ‘I have been racing since 1994 and you can imagine if you have been doing something for 23 years when you win the feeling that you get.
‘I broke down in tears because I felt a cocktail of emotions.’
Kevin and his dad, who are a part of Milton Homing Society, keep nearly 200 pigeons and have a specially-built loft in their garden.
Kevin said: ‘We keep 100 baby birds and about 80 old birds.
‘Eastern Angel was bred by Mark Gilbert who I think is one of the best pigeon racers in the UK and people want to have the best birds in the competition.’
When Kevin received the call that they had won, he phoned his dad straightaway.
He said: ‘I could not speak to my dad when I told him and he thought there was something wrong because I could not get any words out.
‘He came round and when he walked into the back garden he gave me a hug and we both cried.’
John, who is originally from Malta, said: ‘I am very proud of what we have achieved.
‘Both of us cried because it is means so much to us.’
The National Flying Club was founded in 1898 and the Queen is its patron. John and Kevin have joined the competition’s winning ranks along with King Edward VII who was a winner at the club in 1899.