Birthday balloon flies 900 miles to Germany

A  balloon travelled 900 miles after eight-year-old Lillie-May let go of it in her back garden in Burnley. ''Thomas Temple/
A balloon travelled 900 miles after eight-year-old Lillie-May let go of it in her back garden in Burnley. ''Thomas Temple/

A balloon travelled 900 miles after a little girl let it go in her back garden.

Lillie-May (eight) set the balloon free from her home in Burnley, never expecting it could float as far as Germany.

But, less than a month later, she learned of its fate after a grandfather came across it and read her hand-written note asking for whoever found it to get in touch.

Mum Sarah-May (27) said: “We watched it fly away from the back of the house and it disappeared so we thought it had landed in someone’s garden.

“It must have actually gone behind a cloud or something and drifted away - I thought it would only make it round the corner.

“Lilly is really excited that it ended up in a different country but I don’t think she realises how far 900 miles is.”

The balloon was discovered by grandfather Eberhard Behr in Wettin Lobejun, Central Germany.

He read Lillie-May’s note and contacted a local newspaper close to her home, asking them to put him in touch with the youngster.

Eberhard (66) said: “We found the balloon in my neighbour’s garden with the attached note from Lilly-May. I was really surprised.

“The balloon must have been flying really high for the wind to take it all this way.

“My English is not that good, but I understood she wanted an answer that it had arrived somewhere.

“I have four grandchildren myself. They were really happy when I told them the story and I hope the girl will feel the same.

“I’d just like to let her known it arrived and that I send her all the best wishes.”

Lilly-May was given the balloon on her birthday on June 19th and, when it was still inflated in the corner of the family’s living room days later, her dad Lee suggested she tested how far it could travel.

“Lilly wrote a note on a piece of paper and we wrapped it in sellotape to make it waterproof,” said Sarah-May.

“Then we tied it on a ribbon to the bottom of the balloon and let it go on June 23rd.”

The note, which also made it safely to Germany, read: “Hi, my name is Lilly-May Austin. I am 8 from Burnley, Lancashire. If you find this balloon please share on Facebook to see how far it went.”

The family has not yet been able to speak with Eberhard directly, but they hope to thank him for responding to Lillie’s message.

Housewife Sarah-May added: “It was so lovely for the man to try and let Lillie know he’d found her balloon.

“The most incredible thing is the balloon came from a pound shop so I’m amazed it survived.

“It’s unbelievable it got that far when it cost virtually nothing. It could have been damaged in so many ways.

“I was expecting someone to find it nearby and not bother with it, so it’s been extraordinary.”

“We’d love to speak to Mr Behr and thank him. It would be lovely for Lillie and his grandchildren to become pen-pals.”

Eberhard added: “My grandchildren were delighted over the balloon exchange from Great Britain. They found it was very interesting.

“And we’d hereby like to send her our heartfelt greetings.”

And here’s how far other released balloons have travelled:

A Shrewsbury family released balloons to mark a christening - one made it 1,081 miles to a forest in Sweden in 2010.

A balloon released from Stockport as part of World Book Day celebrations in 2009 travelled 1,700 miles to Istanbul, Turkey.

A balloon released by a four-year-old schoolgirl in Manchester was blown nearly 6,000 miles to China in 2007.