Keeper of the Queen’s pigeons dies

Carlo Napolitano, colourful keeper of the Royal lofts, passes away aged 69.

Mr Napolitano is believed to have suffered a heart attack, after returning to his home in Wolferton, on the Royal Estate, from a carriage ride on Monday.

Mr Napolitano, who became the Queen's loft manager in 1992, leaves a wife Judy and a brother and sister.

Friends from the pigeon racing world have been paying tribute.

One wrote in a fancier's magazine: 'He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him and our condolences go out to Judy and all his family.'

Another said: 'Carlo was a gentleman, a very good character and a very successful pigeon man.'

Mr Napolitano, who grew up in Gaywood, entered the family hairdressing business after leaving school.

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One of his customers was the late Len Rush - a celebrated Royal loft manager.

Mr Napolitano kept pigeons from the age of 11.

Explaining his fascination to the EDP, in a 1997 interview, he said: 'It's hard to saywhat the appeal of pigeons is, but you seem to get it in your blood.

'I used to do a lot of fishing, and one day I was out in the Wash when a racing pigeon landed on the boat.'

Mr Napolitano later added of his lifelong fascination: 'They can run your life. You never lose that sense of wonder.

'Only you are sitting here and seeing a little dot coming in over Wolferton Church, and it's flown in all the way from Pau by the Pyrenees, 658 miles, one spot on the planet, and it's made it.'

The Queen was a frequent visitor to the lofts, a mile or two from Sandringham House.

'The Queen is very keen,' Mr Napolitano once confided. 'Her Majesty is interested in breeding and racing, and often drops round here, sometimes at very short notice.'

In his younger years, Mr Napolitano boxed for the Lynn Friars club. He went on to become Eastern Counties Champion.

Mr Napolitano's funeral is at St Peter's, Wolferton, at 2pm on Tuesday, May 24.

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