Helpdesk volunteers flock to help lost racing pigeon find his way home

Release Date: 13/09/2019

Helpdesk volunteers flock to help lost racing pigeon find his way home

Helping patients track down where their appointment is, is part of a typical day for a hospital helpdesk volunteer.

But when a homing pigeon walks through the doors to the main entrance and ends up at the Helpdesk – that’s a different story altogether.

On Wednesday afternoon, visitors at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) got into a bit of a flap when a racing pigeon arrived in the main foyer of the hospital, before stopping off at the helpdesk.

Thankfully, helpdesk volunteers acted fast and realised that the husband of one of the hospital’s Patient Panel members happened to be in there at the time of the commotion, so he flocked to their aid and was able to shed some light on the bird.

Freja Evans Swogger’s husband John, who has experience of handling and taking care of birds, was able to identify the pigeon was a homing pigeon by spotting the contact number of its owner, printed on its wings.

Freja said: “It was a helpful stroke of luck really that John was around when he was, but I must say the hospital’s helpdesk volunteers are the real superstars here. They acted promptly and calmly, showing initiative and ensuring the pigeon’s safety at all times, while helping to catch him.

“Helpdesk volunteers play a vital role in hospital life, dealing with all manner of queries but this one was a particularly unique one.”

The volunteers who were on hand at the time were Dee Hamilton and David Matthews.

Dee said: “We get dozens and dozens of people on a daily basis walk up to helpdesk for assistance but never a pigeon – that’s a new one on us. Once we realised the pigeon belonged to someone, we knew we needed to act fast to keep him safe and ensure he didn’t make a break for it.”

Once they jotted down the telephone number for the pigeon’s owner, they discovered he’d had quite a journey to get to the Oswestry-based hospital.

It emerged that the pigeon was making his way back home, after flying from France, as part of a race back to West Yorkshire – where his owner Leslie Stuckey lives.

Mr Stuckey said: “The race got underway on Saturday morning and I was aware that the winners had made it back within nine hours, so I knew he hadn’t won but I was pleased to get a call from the hospital, informing me of his whereabouts.

“He’s only eight months old, so he’s got a way to go yet but I’m just glad he’ll be returning home soon – and I’m grateful to the hospital’s volunteers for their help.”

The pigeon – who is yet to be named as he is yet to win a race – is being taken care of by Freja and John, until he is collected by courier and returned to his home in Yorkshire.

Ironically, Mr Stuckey is unable to travel to Shropshire due to him having Orthopaedic surgery in Yorkshire in the coming days.


Photo caption: From left, Nicki Williams, Acute Pain Sister; Freja Evans Swogger, Patient Panel member; and Dee Hamilton, hospital helpdesk volunteer.

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