A twelve-year-old girl, who has a serious form of arthritis that can occur in children, has had her wish to fly in a hot air balloon granted over the Surrey countryside.

Kerry Bowden suffers with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and has always dreamed of flying in a hot air balloon, so Starlight Children’s Foundation asked Virgin Balloon Flights to help make her wish come true and Spencer Craze, the company’s Surrey pilot, made it happen.

Kerry, her parents Anne and David and brother Adam, jetted in from their home in Guernsey, for the flight which launched from Shalford Park in Guildford. After an hour in the air, Kerry and her family helped pack away the balloon before sipping Champagne or juice and receiving a personalised certificate signed by pilot Spencer and endorsed by Sir Richard Branson.

Anne said Kerry “has had to endure more pain that most people have to endure in their whole lifetime” and that the balloon flight was “a great family experience”.

After the airborne adventure, the family were treated to a tasty breakfast at Restaurant Cote in Guildford with pilot Spencer. Kerry was also given a bag full of Virgin branded merchandise including a shoulder bag ‘up-cycled’ from a retired hot air balloon by sustainable fashion brand Worn Again, Kerry described the experience as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and the best thing she had done.

Spencer, who regularly takes people on Champagne balloon flights from Guildford and Fernhurst, said: “The flight was fantastic, and it was great getting to know Kerry and her family.

“We flew out from Shalford at 7 am in a southerly direction passing over Bramley and Dunsfold before landing just over an hour later in Plaistow. I’m really glad she enjoyed the flight,” he added.

For further information regarding Virgin hot air balloon rides in Surrey visit www.virginballoonflights.co.uk or call 01952 212750.