Renee Thornton, 1931-2020

Vice President of the British Balloon Museum & Library.

     We were saddened to hear that Renee had died in her sleep. She was a friend, a balloonist and an artist, and her art group meant a lot to her in the last few years.

    David Barker had known Renee longer than most of us and he kindly wrote the following. 

      ‘After crewing for gas balloons for several years Renee (born 15 July 1931) became a founder member of the Southern Balloon Group, latterly with myself as the only other continuing member.  The group bought Carousel in 1972 and then, after Renee had gained her licence, Carousel 2 in 1976, then Renee bought her own balloon Diadem in 1980.  

    We went to Carate Brianza in 1975 to train Piero Porati,  where Renee made a hit with the local press who called her La Prima Donna Montgolfiera.  


    I’ll never forget the sight of Renee marching down the road when she landed there after a solo flight, followed by some half a dozen Italians carrying the basket then even more of them carrying the envelope.  

   I made many flights with Renee, both for her training then the World Championships in 1977 where we were placed 8th, the highest placed UK team.  Together we twice won the Irish Championships, we flew in Spain in 1978, in Morocco, Belgium and France, and took part in the first Château d’Oex meeting in 1979 and the first flight over London for 40 years, in 1978. 

   Renee worked in the personnel department of The John Lewis Partnership up to her retirement latterly in Bristol, where she lived. She was a founder member and later vice president of the BBM&L.’

David Barker 

     Very sad news to receive Jenni, she was a big supporter of the Museum in times gone by and I have her down as Founder Member number 2, she was the first treasurer (1980 to 1984) and retired from the Council in 2009 when we appointed her as a VP! A sad loss to the ballooning world!

Tim Turner, BBM&L Secretary


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