A Cumbrian balloon designer is determined to try to help keep people smiling during the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lynne Myerscough-Newton runs For Any Occasion from a stall at Barrow Indoor Market, supplying custom-designed helium and air-filled balloons for events throughout south Cumbria, such as birthday parties, wedding and baby showers or as one-off gifts between friends and family members.
Her spectacular products include balloon bouquets, arches, centrepieces and backdrops.
The market hall is currently closed to help halt the spread of the virus. But people can still order balloon bouquets from Lynne to be sent to members of their family and friends and she can arrange for them to be delivered in ways that comply with the Government’s social distancing rules.
“It is very important to cheer people up at this time,” said Lynne. “It is vital to think about family, connections and keeping positive.”
Lynne, 42, was born and bred in Barrow and attended Dowdales School at Dalton. She was a drama and stagecraft teacher and Lower School Learning Director at the former Alfred Barrow School in Barrow for ten years. She had to give that up when she developed Multiple Sclerosis but was keen to continue doing something artistic and creative. “What is more practical than creating a massive balloon sculpture?” she said.
She has just passed two examinations run by Qualatex, which makes high-quality latex balloons – a basic ballooning exam to become a member of the Qualatex Network and a balloon bouquet and delivery exam.
“Who would have thought you take balloon exams!” laughed Lynne, who went on to explain: “Anyone can learn how to put some balloons together but Qualatex want people who use their balloons to be highly skilled.”
The courses involved working through seven-hour tutorials on DVDs, complete with exercises, followed by an examination to test what they have learned.
One of the things taught was how to make balloons last longer. “A single helium-filled balloon usually stays up between five and seven hours – overnight it will have started to go down. But the balloons we supply will stay up for seven days.”
The courses also teach the best way to put balloons inside other balloons – a process which means there is less chance of helium escaping – plus how to do special coatings inside and outside to make the balloons last longer.
She is also awaiting the results of a third exam focusing on balloon décor.
She is inspired by her designs by the local landscape. “I look across the stunning beaches and bay to the majestic mountains of the Lake District. I am privileged to live in this beautiful cul de sac. This amazing place features heavily in my designs. I can’t help but reach for the blues and greens I see around me.”
What is so special about balloons? “It does not matter how old you are, if you see a balloon you smile. Balloons help you get in touch with your inner child.”
One of her newest pieces of equipment is a seven-feet long hoop. “It is massive,” said Lynne. “You can personalise it. For example, for a silver wedding you can put balloons all around it, have the names of the couple and the words ‘silver wedding’ in the middle and mix in foliage and flowers.”
What do people say when they see her creations? “They are just amazed –jaw-droppingly so. Some of the most impressive balloons are the smaller ones where you put real flowers inside a balloon. They can look like a snow globe – they are absolutely stunning. People are fascinated about how you got the flowers in there.”
But to find out the secrets about how she achieves that feat you would need to take one of the specialist balloon courses!