AS the balloons soared into the sky, hovering over one of his favourite places in the world, a much-loved young man was remembered.
People fought back tears of pride and sadness as they released dozens of balloons at the base of Spinnaker Tower in memory of Andy Prowting.
Gunwharf Quays was a place he loved, having worked there as a security guard for four years and a regular on the club scene.
The balloon release came exactly one month after the death of the 24-year-old, who lost his battle with skin cancer after a brave eight-month fight.
Andy, of Silkstead Avenue, Leigh Park, was due to fly to America for potentially life-saving treatment, but the £45,000 raised by the Andy’s Army fundraising group will now go to help children on a cancer ward at Southampton General Hospital.
His sister Sam Clarke, 30, of Blendworth Crescent, Leigh Park, said releasing her balloon was emotional.
‘I still can’t believe it,’ she said.
‘When we are all together like this it’s worse because there’s a gap there.
‘He would have been walking round popping balloons, not letting them go. It just doesn’t seem real.’
Sam said the past month had been incredibly difficult, with her son Freddie Clarke, nine, running to the door when the bell rings to see if ‘Uncle Candy’ was there.
Andy’s fiancee, Sarah Barclay, 26, attached a message to her balloon which read: ‘You are my angel, my darling, my star, and my love will find you, wherever you are. Missing you so much beautiful.’
She said: ‘He loved working at Gunwharf so he would be really happy we are doing this down here.’
Two of Andy’s best pals, Richard Ward and Dan Tolfrey, both 25, released balloons with a message for Andy, who they treated like a brother.
Dan, of St Alban’s Road, West Leigh, said: ‘It’s hard to take it in. It happened ridiculously quickly. It’s nice to be here to support his sisters.’
Richard, of Stansted Crescent, West Leigh, said: ‘Because he worked down here, it feels like you are going to bump into him. We wanted to show our respect.’
Whoever finds the messages on the balloons is invited to update the Andy’s Army Facebook page to let the family know how far they got.