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Key workers take part in the Fiesta Flypast in the Thatchers Hot Air Balloon

Three local people who have been nominated for their tireless efforts during the Coronavirus lockdown, have enjoyed a once in a lifetime chance to be part of the first ever Bristol Balloon Fiesta Flypast. Claire Williams, Steve Davies and Sammy Levy all took to the skies for the early morning flight in the Thatchers Cider hot air balloon, piloted by Nigel Appleton of First Flight.

Thatchers Cider had put out the call for nominations and was inundated with requests to share in the very special Bristol Balloon Fiesta Flypast experience.

The Flypast took place this morning, Monday 3 August with the ascent from Ashton Court.

Nigel Appleton of First Flight ( said, “It was a fantastic morning for the Flypast. We enjoyed a spectacular flight from Ashton Court, heading south. We’re so pleased we were able to treat Claire, Steve and Sammy to this very special flight as they’ve all been going above and beyond during Lockdown.”

All three were given a gift of Thatchers Family Reserve to enjoy at home at the end of the flight.

Claire Williams from Whitchurch was nominated by husband Kevin. During lockdown not only was she working in her local school looking after young children, she also helped out in a care home looking after the elderly. Steve Davies from Hanham, was nominated by his mum Nicola. Steve is an electrician who has been working at Southmead Hospital installing extra sockets and ensuring everything was in order for the additional workload at the hospital.  Anne Adamson nominated Sammy Levy,  who tragically lost her husband Peter to Covid19. Sammy, a key worker at Weston General Hospital, started a Covid Bereavement Support Group, so people can come together in a safe place to share experiences, and find and offer comfort and support from other members. Sammy also raised money for a mechanical CPR machine which frees up nursing and medical staff to deal with more patients.

Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cidermaker, said, “We’re so pleased that Claire, Steve and Sammy were able to take part in the Flypast, which brightened up the Bristol skies this morning. Thank you to everyone at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, and all the pilots of these iconic balloons, for making this happen and keeping the fantastic Bristol tradition of hot air ballooning alive this year.”

Chris Allcock, Chair of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta added:

“A huge congratulations to Claire, Steve and Sammy for landing this prize. The last few months has been hard on everyone but it’s been people like Claire, Steve and Sammy with their commitment, drive and sheer selflessness who deserve all the credit in the world for helping the people of Bristol through these difficult times.

“It goes without saying that we all wish we could have been together, as a city, enjoying the Fiesta like we have done for the past four decades.  However we’ve had a beautiful morning flight and we’re so happy that Claire, Steve and Sammy could be part it.”

Thatchers is a long-term partner of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta with its distinctive yellow hot air balloon.

To adhere to government guidelines around social distancing, the 2020 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta cannot take place as normal, but instead, the first Fiesta Flypast has seen the iconic balloons flying over the city.

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