Balloon released in dad’s memory travels more than 1,000 miles

A man holds a helium balloon that landed near his home in Troszkowo, northeast Poland. The balloon was released in Birmingham, England, as a tribute to Nicola Bowler's late father.
(Polsat TV)

An English woman released a helium balloon into the sky over Birmingham, England, to commemorate the anniversary of her father’s death.

She had no idea it would travel more than 1,000 miles, crossing land and sea to end up days later in a field in northern Poland, where a farmer found it and was moved by the gesture of a grieving daughter.

“Sometimes when I speak to my dad, I look up into the sky. So the balloon, I hoped it would travel up there to him,” Nicola Bowler, a nurse, said. “My dad wasn’t very well-traveled. He didn’t go very far. So to see how far this has traveled would mean loads to him. He’d be laughing at all this.”

Bowler and her husband released a number of standard small helium balloons on Sept. 2 along with one star-shaped balloon that said “Always missed but never forgotten Dad / Derek, 26 Apr 50 - 02 Sep 2018.” On a whim, she added another message with her phone number: “Please text me to see how far my dad has traveled. Nicola.”

The balloon got caught immediately in trees surrounding the cemetery where Derek Wood, who died at 68 from cancer, now rests. Bowler’s husband coaxed it out and it moved onward. She never thought the balloon would make it very far.


But travel it did, all the way to Troszkowo, a village in an area of northeastern Poland dotted with lakes where farmer Radoslaw Gach found it on the ground near his home, not far from where his cows graze.

“It made me feel a bit sad and a bit happy that the daughter remembers her father and on the anniversary of his death releases such information,” he said. He texted the number, taking Bowler by surprise.

“Somebody texted me saying ‘your dad has traveled to this village’ that I can’t even pronounce in Poland and initially I thought, ‘Oh my God that’s amazing,’ and then I thought, ‘Is somebody pulling my leg, just saying that,’ ” Bowler told the Associated Press in an interview from the cemetery in Birmingham, where her father’s grave is covered in flowers.

“So I actually googled the number that I received the text [from] and it actually was in Poland,” she said. “I couldn’t actually believe how far the distance was and if it’s possible for a balloon to travel that far.”