Anne Lewis-Smith 1925-2011

Anne Lewis-Smith taken by RQ Barrett

Photograph by RQ Barrett

Anne Lewis-Smith, who passed away at home on May 11th aged 86, was an inspiration to and loved by so many. She was most widely known for her prolific poetry, prose writing and journalism, as well as being a leading figure in the ballooning world and passionate about the British Balloon Museum & Library.

An Irish lady of great determination and devotion in whatever she undertook, adventure was never too far away. For example, in 1944 she travelled, against all odds, to the Faroe Islands on a Danish fishing trawler in rough seas to join her husband Peter. In 1977 she walked the 225 miles all the way from Bedfordshire to her cottage in West Wales to raise money for charity.

Anne Lewis-SmithAnne’s sense of adventure also took her on herfirst balloon flight in 1968 with Charles Dollfus, which began a hobby that became a passion. The charismatic woman that she was, she travelled the world promoting and representing the exciting world of ballooning. She was at the first Hot Air Balloon World Championships held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1973 and went on to organise and commentate at other balloon meetings in the USA, South Africa and many other countries. In France she helped Malcolm Forbes set up the Worlds first museum dedicated to ballooning at his Chateau in Balleroy. She helped organise the first Irish Hot Air Balloon Championships, and many subsequent ones, organising outlandish tasks for the pilots and their crew, a lot of which involved champagne, and food.

Although she had many a balloon flight over the years she never expressed interest in getting a pilot’s licence, basking in the organisational and social side, and being the essential ally in competitions, her leaf collecting skills as the basket was flown through trees secured a win at one Irish meet.

Anne Lewis-SmithShe was a highly valued Editor of the BBAC’s magazine Aerostat for quite few years during the 70’s, also helping to set up and run the Cirencester balloon meets, and organising the 1st Woman Balloon Pilot’s meet in 1975. In 1977, along with her friend Roger Barrett, she was involved in making the arrangements for the first ballooning World Championships to be held in the UK.

Her hard work was acknowledged and she was awarded the Swedish Ballooniana-Prizet in 1975, the Tissandier Award for Services to Aviation in 1978 (presented by Prince Charles) and the Debby Warley Trophy also for Services to Aviation in 1983 (presented by Prince Andrew).

She was known as ‘Henny’ by her children and grandchildren, and when her son-in-law Richard d’Alton bought his first balloon, he requested the registration G-HENY, as mark of love and respect. Richard is currently Chairman of the BBM&L, of which Anne was a founding member and Director. She was passionate about the museum and what it stood for.

For the past 30 years she has been living in Newport, halfway up a mountain in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, with her husband Peter and in that brief time she had become an inseparable part of Newport life, a familiar figure, always wearing a full-length dress.

She enjoyed life fully and summed up in her own words “The sort of poetry/pen in one hand and a child in the other -feet slightly off the ground, in a glorious kind of life, full to the brim”

Anne (nee McCormick) Lewis-Smith married Peter in 1944. He survives her, along with their three children; Jennifer, Christopher and Nicola; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Charlotte McEvoy