Balloon pilots meet in Thornbury for pre-season gathering and night glow

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THORNBURY enjoyed the sights and sounds of a hot air balloon night glow when the town's golf centre hosted a start-of-season gathering for pilots.

The event was organised as a social get-together for balloonists but the night glow and fireworks display was also a thank-you to supporters and sponsors. A number of local families also went along, swelling the numbers watching the spectacle.

Thornbury Balloon Meet was organised by former Castle School student Tom Gouder, who lives in the town and gained his own pilot's licence when he was just 17.

Now 22, he has flown in a number of countries and has been a regular at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. He even taught his mum, Julie Searle, to fly after she caught the ballooning bug.

Tom said the three-day event followed a smaller test run that was held last year.

Although largely social, a couple of balloons did manage to fly on the opening day but poor weather grounded them for the rest of the gathering.

Tom and his event manager, Sam Baker, now hope to be able to return next year.

He said: "I'm trying to promote the sport, especially among young people and women, and the golf centre is keen to have another event.

"Although there wasn't much flying, we had organised some fun golf matches and other activities, including a talk by balloonist Ian Martin about flying in Burma."

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