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Keith Mott's

ST ANDREWS SCHOOL VISIT

 

 

I’ve had a really busy pigeon time this week! Firstly, I auctioned 50 youngsters for the Three Borders Federation at the Hersham Royal British Legion club and we raised a wonderful £1,600 for the Federation. Thanks to everyone who supported the sale, the turn out on the night was brilliant! Secondly, Peter Taylor and I made the 75 miles drive down to Ashford in Kent for a visit with our good friends, Ced and Clive Allwright and as always we were made very welcome. I had a special mating this year, when I paired my son of Brian Denney’s Champion ‘Tuff Nut’ to my best Eric Cannon stock hen, ‘Culmer Rocket Queen’ and I took a youngster off them down to the Allwrights, as a gift. Peter and I both bought back a gift youngster off their Champion ‘Starlett’ bloodlines. Thirdly, Pete and I attended Arthur Payne’s 80th birthday party, put on by his family at ‘Goals’ in New Malden and that was a great night.

 

 

The highlight of the week for me was my visit, with a basket of pigeons in tow, to St. Andrews Church School in Cobham. My six year old granddaughter, Sasha, attends the school and it’s really only because of her love of the pigeons that I happen to make the visit. I must say, I’m really glad I went, as it was wonderful to see them kids enjoy the pigeons so much! It’s true to say that our Sasha loves all animals and quite literary would not harm a fly. When ever she is at our house in Claygate, most of that time she spends in the pigeon loft and although she is only six years old, with tinny hand, she handles pigeons like an 18 year old! She has a wonderful affinity with the pigeons and the young birds alight all over her when she sits in the loft feeding them. Every season she picks out her own youngster and last year it was a blue pied hen bred by my good friend Tom Gilbertson of Carlisle, which she named ‘White Top’. Although this yearling has only had three races as a young bird, she has appeared twice on television in recent months and with Sasha’s great enthusiasm for her pigeon, ‘White Top’ has become quite famous at the St. Andrews School in Cobham. Ray Hough, the producer of the B.B.C. ‘Inside Out’ London programme featured her in our recent appearance on the show and I gave Sasha a copy of a D.V.D. I produced of the programme. She took the recording to school and her teacher, Mrs. Slade, played it to her class, which is called ‘Robin’. The teachers and pupils enjoyed the  D.V.D. so we thought it would be nice to take some pigeons in to the school, so as class ‘Robin’ could see and handle some birds, and of course meet ‘White Top’ in the flesh, or should I say in the ‘feather’. I took two 3 week old squeakers and a white flight blue youngster, which was flying strong, for the kids to handle and four yearlings, including ‘White Top’ for a liberation in the playground at the end of my visit.

 

 

My daughter, Caroline, took me to the school and it was worth the effort, just to see Sasha’s face when we walked in the classroom with a basket of pigeons. She came straight up to me and gave her ol’ ‘Bad Boy’ a kiss! I must explain, I have five grand children and they don’t call me granddad, they have always called me ‘Bad Boy’. This was started with Sasha when she was very young, through my daughter Caroline calling me a bad boy, and it has now stuck, and all the kids call me it. I love it, because I am a bad boy! On my arrival in the ‘Robin’ classroom, Mrs. Slade introduced me to the children and Sasha soon had the blue white flight youngster out of the basket, and showing it to her classmates. I heard several of them say, ‘is that ‘White Top’ Sasha?’ The Tom Gilbertson hen was next out on display and remained in Sasha’s hand for most of the visit, until she was liberated in the playground at the end. Mrs. Slade organized the kids really well and they were soon asking me questions about our pigeons and the sport of racing and showing them. When you consider ‘Robin’ is a class of six year olds, the questions they asked were real quality, with, how do they find they way home, what are the rings on their legs for and how far do they race. When I told them they raced from places like Barcelona in Spain, Mrs. Slade showed them the race point on the classroom map and they were amazed at the long distances we race with our birds. Everyone had their photo taken holding the young pigeons and needless to say, one little lad let the blue white flight youngster go and it finished up on the classroom light fitting. After a very enjoyable hour in the classroom, Sasha liberated the four yearlings in the playground, so her class could see them break for home.

The first official St. Andrew’s School in Cobham opened in Cedar Road in 1860 and since then a long tradition has grown up that Cobham families look to their local school for a good start for the education of their children.

 

 

St. Andrews Church School is about 100 yards up the road from the late, great Wally Dann’s home in Cobham; in fact you could see the school gates in Lockhart Road from his racing loft. Wally Dann’s son, Tony, is one of my best fiends and he informs me he was one of the first pupils to attend St. Andrews on that site, when it was first opened in the 1950’s. The main part of the buildings that is the school today in Lockhart Road was built originally as a secondary school and opened in 1958. In 1985 St. Andrew’s secondary school joined two other schools in Esher on one site, now known as Esher High School. In September 1985 the children from St. Andrew’s Middle School moved to Lockhart Road from there Victorian site in Cedar Road and the following year children from Cobham First School moved in from their Edwardian site in Hogshill Road, too join them in the new purpose built wing attached to the main building. They then became St. Andrew’s First and Middle School, ages ranging from 5 to 12. In 1993, in line with other schools in the County, St. Andrews became a ‘primary’ school and the Governors renamed the school ‘St. Andrew’s School, Cobham’.

 

 

 

The school maintains an important role in the heart of the Cobham community, with many of today’s children following in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. I can remember when my wife, Betty, returned after viewing the school with Caroline for the first time, prior to Sasha starting there and her saying what a wonderful school it was! At present there are 14 classes in the school and the average class size is 22 pupils. The school is noted for it’s fields and open spaces, and has an outdoor, heated swimming pool.

From chats with other mothers at the school gate, Caroline informs me that my visit has stirred up a lot of pigeon racing interest, with the teachers and pupils at St. Andrews, which is great! I would like to finish by thanking Mrs. Slade for inviting me to St. Andrew’s; I really enjoyed the visit and meeting everyone. I can be contacted on telephone number: 01372 463480. See yer!

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT

17/4/07

B.I.F.S.

Report Stray Pigeons Here
strays@rpra.org