Hot air balloon ride launches fundraising retirement

When popular headteacher Barrie Smith decided to retire in 1993, the staff at his beloved Rodbourne Cheney Primary School arranged for a hot air balloon ride to launch from the playground; little did they realise the impact it would have.

Barrie, a well-known and much-loved figure in his home town of Haydon Wick near Swindon, died just before Christmas after a short illness.

During his 20 year retirement, Barrie was a prodigious fund raiser, organising a number of events to help local groups. Having thoroughly enjoyed his first hot air balloon flight, Barrie realised that using such trips as raffle prizes would be a popular draw at his fundraising events.

Among the local groups which benefited from his tireless enthusiasm was a local Scout troop, which received a new headquarters building, and the Haydon Wick Bowls Club, which has enjoyed the proceeds of the annual Christmas concert performed by the Aldbourne Band at the Haydon Centre since 1995.

Barrie, who was also a talented musician, wrote musical arrangements for shows at the many schools around the area at which he taught during a 30 year career. Reflecting his musical interest, he was part of the founding committee for the Friends of Swindon Young Musicians, remaining a stalwart supporter and fundraiser for the group over the years.

In a further string to his bow, Barrie held several public positions, being a former president of the Swindon branch of Probus and one of the first governors of Haydonleigh Primary School.

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