Well, the festive season has landed and 2011 has simply flown by here at Virgin Balloon Flights. (New Year’s resolution: no more balloon puns!).
It’s been a fantastic 12 months with thousands of new airborne adventurers, fantastic personal achievements by staff and charity campaigns galore! Enjoy some of our highlights in pictures below.
Steve Dubois of SteveOnTheRun.co.uk, from Virgin Media in Cambridge, visited Virgin Balloon Flights HQ for a training run with our Eve (who ran a half marathon this year for Hope Hope) and Sue as part of his preparation for the Virgin London Marathon. Entrepreneur Mark Pearson, of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk fame, told us about his unforgettable balloon flight in Surrey the previous season.
Fundraiser and Handstand King Jon Smallwood surprised pilot Simon after a balloon flight in Dorset and two little first time balloonists climbed aboard in Yorkshire to raise money for Comic Relief.
Pilot Mark Simmons and his lucky passengers enjoyed a tea break at a 1,000ft on a balloon flight over Bristol and later in the month we caught up with Sir Richard Branson when our balloon was at the Virgin London Marathon.
We met two-year-old balloon fan Craig Laing from Perth in Scotland where we fly from and provided a prize for a fantastic Ladies Day at Perth Racecourse.
We announced our return to the International Bristol Balloon Fiesta and Lee Hall and Carly Jenkins from Hampshire became the first of several couples to get engaged in mid-air this year – congratulations again!
TV Illusionist Derren Brown joined pilot Mark Shemilt for a magical balloon flight over Oxfordshire and our head of customer service Lynsay delivered toys donated by staff to the Muxton After School Club in Telford as part of our Mandela Day efforts.
Pilot Neal Parry flew his 10,000th passenger called Bridget Jones on a balloon ride over Staffordshire and soul singing sensatio Beverley Knight did a fantastic performance in mid-air for Virgin Red Room when we appeared at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.
The Virgin Summer of Love Virgil Van Scoop rolled in to see us bringing free ice cream and giving us the perfect opportunity to hand over the cheque for £7,811 to Hope House. Meanwhile, Kenneth our chief pilot won the skill flying challenge at the famous Lorraine Mondial Air Balloons event in France
Pilot Mark Shemilt was chosen as our company’s Star of the Year for his excellent customer service and met Sir Richard and Holly Branson at a glitzy awards night at Kensington Roof Gardens. Meanwhile, the team celebrated Halloween in scary style.
Head of marketing Alex completed 50 First Times for the Virgin Social Marthon in aid of Virgin Unite including a ten-mile run, ice bath, leg wax and driving a tractor and our new website ended its first month after launch with some great feedback which made us smile.
Marketing exec and business champion Kirsty won a trip to South Africa to visit Virgin Unite’s Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg and help Sir Richard with launch of his new book Screw Business as Usual. Sam Tolley won our photography competition with this beautiful picture on a balloon flight over Cambridgeshire.
Thanks to all of our pilots, crew, staff, customers, launch sites and partners for a great year.
Merry Christmas and here’s to brilliant 2012!