Wallasey man Joe Bampton among those who lost their lives in hot air balloon tragedy (From Wirral Globe)
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Wallasey man Joe Bampton among those who lost their lives in hot air balloon tragedy
Friends have paid tribute to Wallasey antiques expert and artist Joe Bampton who lost his life in the Egyptian hot air balloon crash.
Joe, who recently turned 40, and his 34 year-old Hungarian-born partner Suzanna Gyetvai, were among those killed yesterday during the early-morning flight over the ancient ruins of Luxor.
Nineteen passengers were killed after the cradle of the balloon caught fire, sending it crashing 1,000ft to the ground.
Joe was a former pupil of St Mary's College, Wallasey, where staff said he would be remembered for his great talent as an artist.
Assistant headteacher Steve Peters, who taught Joe maths, said: “I remember Joe as a really dedicated student.
"He was very bright, and very talented, excelling at maths and also in the arts.
“I am not surprised to hear that he went on to do so well in life.”
Headteacher Tony Boyle said: "This is a great tragedy and a shock for the whole college community.
"We pass on our condolences to his loved ones, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Former schoolfriend Sean Dutton told of Joe’s “wicked” sense of humour and the memories they shared together.
He said: “We were in a lot of the same classes and were both into art but I was always really jealous of him because he was a such a natural talent - just amazing.
“He could be very cheeky at times and you would have to get to know him to understand his dry sense of humour.
"He was very intelligent and everyone loved him because he was just a nice guy.
“I have some great memories of a group of us rushing back to his house at lunchtimes to watch Carol Vorderman on Countdown and we all had some great times together.
“I couldn’t believe it when I realised Joe was among those who died in the crash and it is awful to think that such a terrible tragedy happened to such a lovely guy.”
A spokeswoman for Wirral Met College, where Joe once studied, said: "We were very sad to hear the news and our thoughts and sympathies are with his family.”
Joe and Suzanna worked at Lots Road Auctions in Chelsea, west London, where they met a few years ago.
Devastated colleagues paid tribute to the pair, from Clapham, south London, who were due to return home later this week.
"They were both so very, very nice," said Lots Road auctioneer Nick Carter, who told the Daily Telegraph they had been looking forward to their trip.
"Joe was especially peaceful, very calm and very pleasant. We are all like a family here and are exceptionally close and it is just awful. We are all very shocked.
"It is very tragic. It's a very hard thing to come to terms with, it's like losing a brother. Joe's death will leave a huge hole. We are all just in shock at the moment."
A relative said Joe's mother, Maureen, 59, was too upset to comment at her home in Wallasey this morning.
Four Britons were caught up in the world's worst ballooning disaster.
The other Briton who died at the scene was Mrs Yvonne Rennie, from Perth in Scotland.
Her husband Michael Rennie, 49, survived by leaping from the balloon's basket.
He was taken to hospital along with the pilot of the doomed craft and is now in a stable condition. Mr Rennie was the only tourist to survive.