Hospice Nurse to Drag Queen: Bristol icons celebrate Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Three iconic Bristol institutions are coming together this summer to celebrate at two of the city’s best-loved events.

St Peter’s Hospice will be the official charity partner for the 2019 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and celebrated their relationship with local hot air balloon company Bailey Balloons at a special launch event at the Hospice grounds in Brentry on Tuesday.

Special guest Carmella del Marquis – otherwise known as drag queen Robb Norton – added a touch of glamour to proceedings and also marked the Hospice’s partnership with Bristol Pride in the festival’s tenth anniversary year.

Carmella del Marquis and the St Peter's Hospice balloon

Sarah Allen Gunn, Head of Fundraising commented: “We’re thrilled to be the charity partner for the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta again in 2019. Last year was a huge success for us – despite the frequent rain – and we were able to speak with hundreds of people across the weekend, highlighting the work of the Hospice and also collecting donations to fund our work.

“The Balloon Fiesta is such an iconic event here in Bristol, we’re proud to be part of it and grateful to everyone on the organising committee for their support of the Hospice.”

Carmella del Marquis and the St Peter's Hospice balloon

Robb works for Morgan Hunt, an important corporate supporter of St Peter’s Hospice, but began his career as a healthcare assistant alongside Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the Hospice movement.

Robb commented: “I was lucky enough to see the care Dame Cicely had and the passion to change end-of-life care. St Peter’s Hospice is much loved by the Bristol community, not only helping those who are ill, but also looking after their family and friends.”

“As Dame Cicely said: ‘You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.’”

“While towering around in six-inch heels, I am used to heights and have always desired to have a trip in a hot air balloon. To experience the peace and tranquillity and stunning views would be wonderful and I look forward to joining Bailey Balloons on a trip in the future.”

Carmella del Marquis and the St Peter's Hospice balloon

Jo Bailey of Bailey Balloons said: “We are always honoured to support St Peter’s Hospice and this year we are lending them a balloon for the Fiesta, as it is a charity very close to our hearts. They have cared for my Grandmother, my Mother and close friends. Their support and care, for not only the patients, but their family and friends, is absolutely amazing. We are so lucky to have this facility in Bristol. Every community deserves to have such a professionally run hospice run by such passionate and dedicated people.”

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta runs from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 August at Ashton Court Estate. The world-renowned free event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to witness the spectacular mass ascents as over 100 hot air balloons take flight in mass ascents every morning and evening.

St Peter’s Hospice is still looking for volunteers to help with bucket collections, selling merchandise, manning the Hospice stand and setting up at the event. If you can help, please contact Clemi Williams on clemi.williams@stpetershospice.org or call 01275 391404.

Bristol Pride fortnight runs until 14 July, culminating in Bristol Pride day on Saturday 13 July. St Peter’s Hospice is an official Pride Partner and will be taking part in the Pride Parade as well as having a marquee on the festival site offering information and advice, glitter, face painting and freebies.

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