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Making Laurie's dreams come true

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Coolamon Villa resident Laurie has the most spectacular view from his bedroom window. In the distance lie the verdant hills of Mullumbimby, with cattle roaming and macadamia trees dotting the landscape.

But there’s an even better treat to be viewed from his window mostmornings. At sunrise, the hot air balloons, off on their morning flight, drift slowly across the horizon and 89-year old Laurie loves to watch them go by.

One morning, Nicole, a Personal Care Assistant/Recreational Activities Officer, was working on her morning shift when she was chatting to Laurie who shared how he had always wanted to go in a hot air balloon.

“It’s on my wish list,” said Laurie.

Nicole’s response was, “Well, why not?”.

From that moment, Nicole set the wheels in motion to make Laurie’s dream come true. She reached out to local operator Balloons Aloft in Byron Bay who very generously gifted Laurie a complimentary balloon ride experience – thank you Balloon Aloft!

Nicole filmed Laurie's balloon ride - check out the video on the Catholic Healthcare You Tube page!

“With all the planning and paperwork completed, the flight was booked and we hoped for a perfect morning,” continues Nicole. “When I told Laurie we were going hot air ballooning his face lit up and he had a smile from ear to ear.”

On the day of the flight Nicole arrived at Coolamon before sunrise to pick Laurie up and drive him to The Farm near Byron Bay to check in to his flight.

“Laurie was up and ready to go and we set off to be at The Farm by 4:10am,” says Nicole. “We were the first people to arrive. Once checked in, we waited for the other passengers. The pilot gave us a briefing and explained that with the wind direction, the balloons would fly over the hill from Main Arm to Myocum.

“We watched as the balloon baskets were unloaded and the balloons filled with hot air. Laurie watched in awe and could not take his eyes off the balloon. Once the balloons were inflated we climbed into the basket. Before we knew it we were gently lifting off the ground climbing just as the sun was rising.”

“We’re up,” said Laurie excitedly.

“We didn’t know where to look first,” says Nicole. “Behind us was the beautiful Mt Warning and in front of us, Mt Chincogen and the ocean.”

“I had a huge smile on my face,” says Laurie. “All I could say was this is fantastic, I still can’t believe it, thank you so much. The views were breathtaking and the weather perfect. It was like it was meant to be. It was so calm and peaceful up in the sky, it made me feel free. It was better than flying in a plane as the views were endless.”

Nicole and Laurie drifted with the breeze for about an hour, then the balloon started to descend.

“And just like that we were on the ground with a graceful landing,” says Nicole. “It felt like we had landed on a cloud, but really we landed in a paddock in Myocum! It was incredible, weboth wanted to immediately go up again.Once packed up we were back on the bus to The Farm and then back to Coolamon Villa.”

Laurie said the experience was as up there with the best and one he will always remember.

“Now when I see the balloons drift by my window I know what it feels like to be up there,” reflects Laurie. “It is a treasured memory. It shows you are never too old to achieve your dreams or at least try.

“Nicole is one in a million. I would never have believed I would be going on a hot air balloon ride and she made this happen for me. She is truly an angel and everyone at Coolamon is lucky to have her in their lives. I am forever grateful to Nicole for making my dreams come true.

“Thank you also to my wife (who also lives at Coolamon), my family and staff for all the support. I would also like to thank Balloon Aloft for also making this an experience I will always remember.”

For more information on Coolamon Villa Residential Aged Care in Mullumbimby visit www.catholichealthcare.com.au/residence/coolamon-villa/