Portsmouth youngsters’ balloons travel hundreds of miles over to France

UP, UP, AND AWAY The balloon launch at Stamshaw Infant School in early January
UP, UP, AND AWAY The balloon launch at Stamshaw Infant School in early January

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WHEN schoolchildren released 75 balloons to fire up their imaginations about the world around them, no-one imagined they’d travel further than the Solent.

But to everyone’s surprise three youngsters at Stamshaw Infants in Portsmouth received responses from residents living hundreds of miles away – in France.

A dog walker, a housewife and a meteorologist all returned the tags the boys and girls had attached to the balloons when they set them free.

Macie Nutbeam, six, whose orange balloon was picked up by a retired meteorologist in the northern Parisian suburb of Ermont, said: ‘The message on the tag I attached to my balloon had eight kisses on it – maybe it gave me good luck!

‘I felt so happy when my letter arrived, I still can’t believe it travelled so far.

‘The man who found it studies the weather and said lots of interesting things about how he used balloons to measure the temperature and wind speed.

‘I’ve never been to France but I would like to go there.’

Molly Hillbourne, six, whose balloon travelled to Créteil in the south east of Paris, said: ‘I was so surprised to get an email from a lady called Evelyn who said her husband found my blue balloon in his garden.

‘I’ve been to France and it’s a long way away.’

Owen Bond, six, was delighted to learn his balloon had made a 300-mile trip to Burgundy.

He said: ‘My letter came in French which we had to translate.

‘The woman said she found it in the field when walking her dog – maybe her dog sniffed it out.’

The aim of the balloon launch was to kick-start the topic ‘Around the world in 28 days’ – so that children could imagine their hot air balloons travelling over a variety of countries including India and Kenya which they would then study across the curriculum.

And they got much more than they bargained for.

Headteacher Jo Cooper said: ‘We wanted to bring the curriculum to life – but we didn’t expect it to be so realistic. The children now feel inspired to visit other countries just like their balloons!

‘It was particularly thrilling for us that one of the recipients was a retired meteorologist who told us he uses balloons to calculate the wind speed, temperature and weather.’