Hot air balloonist finds a hidden heart

While out for a hot air balloon flight at the start of July, transport businessman Andy Collett could hardly believe his eyes.

Set among the rolling countryside of Gloucestershire but tucked away, out of view to all except someone with a bird’s eye view, was a perfect heart shape, nestling in the centre of an oak wood.

The wood was planted 17 years ago by Winston Howes, the owner of a large farm near Stroud, Gloucestershire, who decided to set aside a six-acre field to plant the wood in memory of his wife after she died suddenly.

The wood is surrounded by a thick hedge and is completely invisible from the road, with only a narrow track leading through the wood to the open heart, where Mr. Howes likes to sit quietly on a seat he made himself. The one-acre heart has become an established wild flowers meadow and is packed with daffodils each spring.

Mr. Howes kept the wood secret from all but his immediate family and close friends. Although Andy is a keen and regular hot air balloonist around Stroud, he had never flown over this particular area before and he told the Daily Telegraph that he was amazed by the sight, which he described as both ‘stunning’ and ‘romantic’.

Although Mr. Howes’ secret wood has now been captured on film and published in the national press for all to see, it is still only during hot air balloon flights that the moving memorial can be seen in its full glory.

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