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Blank Notebook

A Penny Saved

My entire life changed because of a pigeon.

Now, there’s a sentence that I never thought I’d say.

It was a very normal night on the 2nd May 2022, just after a bank holiday (and a heavy weekend!) And if there was one thing that I was certain, it was that I had no intention of going out again. And yet, there I was, Monday evening, sat in a pub garden with friends.

 

And then, there she was, an inconspicuous fledgling pigeon, wandering around on the floor.

 

I can't really remember the very moment that I spotted her, but I remember when she perched on our bench. Perhaps she was tired, or hungry, I thought. And then it was in that moment that I first learnt that my friend has a bird phobia.

 

We swapped places, rather frantically, and the little bird continued to perch on the end of the bench, her feathers all puffed up. And, with no intention of shooing her away, I let her rest there, undisturbed. But little did I know, it wasn’t rest that she needed, it was help.

 

A moment later, she approached me and leaned her small body gently against my thigh, and then suddenly, she hopped into my lap.

Flabbergasted, I looked on as she nestled there, quite comfortable, for over three hours, her eyes squinting open and closed. At one point, I even handed her to my friend whilst I went to the toilet, and when I returned, she hopped straight back onto my arm and then into my lap. 

 

As you can imagine, we had drawn quite the crowd, with the little pigeon nestling on my shoulder and even in the crook of my arm. Lots of people asked me if she was my pet, and eventually, a waitress told me that the little bird had actually walked inside the pub earlier in the evening, but tragically, people had been kicking her around. I was absolutely heartbroken, and when asked if I would take her home, I already knew my answer. The waitress kindly offered me a take-away box to put her in, but I reassured her that I would be okay, because I had a gut feeling that she wouldn’t leave my side. And then, just as we were making a move, I spotted a group of students looking around the floor for something, and then I heard one of them ask somebody if they had seen a pigeon...

Eureka! I thought. She must be someone’s pet, no wonder she is so friendly! But this bird was full of surprises.

 

No, she did not belong to the students, rather, they had encountered her in another pub up the road earlier in the night. Again, the little pigeon had walked inside for reasons unknown, but had been met with abuse at the hands of people who were throwing her about and shoving her with their feet.

 

These students took pity on her and carried her outside to try and release her in a quiet, wooded area, but she started following them back! They attempted to lose her (for her own safety) and then said that they couldn’t stop thinking about her all night, and so wanted to see if they could find her again. We exchanged numbers and I promised that I would do my best for her. I then popped her onto my shoulder and walked the five minute journey to my car (it had been an alcohol-free night for me) and I drove us home. She never moved from my shoulder the entire car ride.

Hannah and Penny, by Charlotte Morris illustrations
Blank Notebook

Lucky Penny

My mum, who had been prepped on the bizarre events of the evening via a phone call, had made up a little bed for the bird in a cat carrier inside our outhouse. We provided some water and bird seed that we had spare for the garden birds, and we said goodnight, hoping that she would make it.

 

The next day, my new tenacious feathered friend was still with us, and I tended to her nasty wounds (not really knowing what I was doing). And in this day and age, it was no surprise that my friends and I had documented the entire turn of events on our phones. And when I posted that video on Tik-Tok, it generated a colossal 27 million views. And from that moment on, our lives changed forever.

 

The world fell in love with the brave little pigeon, and they even voted on her name:

 

Penny.

 

Penny drummed up a huge Tik Tok following, well into the hundreds of thousands and, together, we were a part of countless interviews, documentaries, and radio shows. We rubbed shoulders with Amanda Holden and Jaimie Theakston on Heart Radio, Claudia Winkelman on her daily chat show, and now have a wonderful relationship with the BBC who have featured us three times throughout our journey.

The world witnessed mine and Penny’s fairy-tale-like bond, and joined us as I learnt how to care for her, whilst simultaneously discovering how truly amazing pigeons are. Penny continued to steal the show, infatuating anyone that met her, and eventually, I decided to turn our story into a children’s book.

 

‘Little Pigeon’, the story of bravery, kindness, and finding your family, no matter how lost you may feel.

 

 

But on Friday 16th June 2023, Penny the pigeon sadly died suddenly from an infection in her liver, likely bought on by the abuse that she had suffered the previous year.

 

She left behind a devastated family, an incredible legacy, and most importantly, she left behind a lesson. She taught the world that a small act of kindness can change everything, that it can span all languages, cultures, and creed, and that every living creature deserves to be shown it. 

Penny's memory now lives on in this organisation, founded not simply for pigeons and pigeon welfare, but to remind humanity to be just that, human.

 

I will likely never fully understand why Penny chose me that day, but I am so glad that she did. In just over a year we lived life to the fullest, completely inseparable and the best of friends, I will never forget her, and I hope that she knows that we will always be her home.

Hannah and Penny
Hannah and Penny first meet
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Watch the video that changed it all

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Pigeon History

Pigeon drawing, by Daisy

Meet the people passionate about pigeons and the driving force behind Penny's Pigeon Aid.

Find out how Penny's Pigeon Aid is igniting social change, and altering the way that pigeons are viewed, forever.

Learn more about how you can help pigeons, whilst also protecting natural habitats within urban spaces.

Discover the amazing and tragic history of pigeons, their integral role in society for thousands of years, and their eventual downfall.

Pigeon drawing, by Daisy
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“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Aesop

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