Welsh charity ditches balloons in favour of pigeons

A Welsh homelessness charity has ditched its annual mass balloon release in favour of a dove and pigeon race amid concerns about potential environmental damage.

Llamau took the pin to plan A after reading a letter in Third Sector that criticised a coalition of Welsh charities for releasing 621 balloons as part of a campaign to increase the number of organ donors (11 June, page 13). The letter pointed to the Marine Conservation Society's concerns that deflated balloons can be harmful to wild animals.

Rachal Minchinton, fundraising and event manager for Llamau, said the charity had decided against the balloon release because of internal concerns about the environment and fears about bad publicity. She said 20 doves had been provided free by a specialist company, and a that a pigeon fancier who happened to be married to one of the charity's employees had agreed to provide another 20 birds.

Minchinton said the event would conform to animal welfare standards and she hoped no animal charities had any objections to pigeon racing. She also admitted to being worried about problems of an entirely different nature. "I'm told they poo a bit when they fly off, so I'll be standing well back," she said.

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