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Grantham mum cancels balloon release amid environment fears

From left, Sophia Winfield, Charlene Kibble, Samantha Lorne and Danni Punchi.
From left, Sophia Winfield, Charlene Kibble, Samantha Lorne and Danni Punchi.

A mum was forced to abandon her plans to hold a balloon release, in memory of Alfie Evans, after an outcry of people worried about the environment.

Charlene Kibble, 32, of Walton Gardens, was planning to set off over 100 biodegradable balloons at Wyndham Park last Saturday as a tribute to the Merseyside toddler, who died last month. But after appealing online for members of the public to join her, people took to social media to urge her not to go ahead with the release due to the threat to the environment.

One social media user wrote: ‘Balloon releases have such terrible consequences for the environment.’

Another was concerned about the dangers that the balloons would pose to animals, adding: ‘Killing animals and damaging the environment is no memorial for a child.’

Charlene, a mum of eight, said: “As a mother, I have felt so emotionally attached to Alfie’s story and the huge fight his parents put up to get their son to be allowed to fly to Italy for treatment. So many people have been touched by how strong and dedicated his parents have been and the courage they have shown. I, along with a few others, wanted a way to show our respects. I got over 100 balloons printed with a personalised message to Alfie. I made sure they were biodegradable, so I didn’t expect such a negative reaction.”

Determined to still go ahead, Charlene decided to put the balloons on sticks and invited everyone to blow bubbles instead.

Despite the initial concerns, over 40 people turned up on Saturday afternoon.

Charlene added: “The park was really busy and many people saw what we were doing and joined in. It was perfect and I just want to thank everyone for their help and support, especially Kerry at The Party Balloons Shop on Wharf Road, who printed them all half price for us.”

The RSPCA website states: ‘Animals can eat balloons and choke or become impacted. Balloon releases threaten wildlife, even balloons marked as degradable may take a number of weeks to degrade but it only takes a second for an animal to swallow a balloon.’

Alfie’s story touched the hearts of millions nationwide as his parents battled to take their son to a foreign hospital for treatment but lost their court appeal.

The brave toddler passed away in the early hours of Saturday April 28, five days after coming off life support.


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