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The day I joined Barry's Flying Circus... and the Tonic family.

Dave Morrall tells us about his experience at this years Barry’s Flying Circus, raising funds and awareness for Tonic Rider.

There were many amazing things about my day with Barry's Flying Circus so I'll start at the very beginning, I wanted to to do some fund raising in memory of my late partner, it will be 10 years next year we lost our beautiful Kelli and we want any events to be a celebration of her life and lots of fun just like her so this event jumped off the page to me... that's the one! I signed up without hesitation.

I'm not going to lie, as I pulled up to the gate my heart was pounding with excitement and fear in equal amounts! As I walked around the corner I saw "Dawny Darling" and her big welcoming smile, I've spoken to Dawn on the phone and by email many times but this is the first time we have met in person and it was just a pleasure, we had a hug and I made a nervous joke about life insurance!... she gave me a reassuring talking to "we will have none on that!... everyone who comes today will go home safely" and I started to calm down, "Ma' Tonic" was setting up her merchandise stall and she gave me one of her "magic hugs" which are actually magic and make any situation calm!

My daughters and grandchildren came with with me as well as one of my oldest school friends and I have to say it was just like being at a family gathering they were made so welcome as if we had all known each other years ! In fact I have a story I will tell for years to come... here goes (when reading this bit please keep in mind I'm a massive Dub pistols fan... so Barry Ashworth is a bit of an idol to me!) I popped to the loo and my granddaughter is like my little shadow she follows me everywhere, I asked her to wait outside, whilst I was having a pee I could hear her chatting away and as I came out,  there was Barry! And he started singing "Grandad we love you... grandad we doooooo!" A lovely moment I will never forget! I also got to meet the awesome bundle of energy Anna Spanna, one half of DJ's Just A Couple of Mums, she was just a joy to meet and so funny. Baring in mind both Anna and Barry were playing to sell out crowds at Glastonbury a few weeks ago and here we are sharing our sandwiches with them, thats pretty cool I think!  Anna was there to do the more advanced flight including loop the loops as she is now a seasoned wingwalker having done it last year, what a legend! 

We had our safety brief from the lovely aerobatics display team, I am going to skip past the fact that they are let's say very attractive as they are about the same age as my older daughters, but yes they are lovely, and very experienced in aerobatics and wing walking and the safety brief was informative and you had chance to ask any questions to put you mind at rest, and now it's just wait and watch the others head for the skies !

Now it's my turn I have a few butterflies but again the girls reassure me as they strap me into the seat and I'm now feeling actually very calm as we taxi away into the distance, when we took off I find it difficult to describe but it's calm and exhilarating at the same time, it's like the ultimate escape... freedom!

Your pilot will ask you if you would like a simple steady flight or a bit of action flight, I wanted a bit more excitement which he did and I was relieved that I didn't get motion sickness it was actually quite smooth and just right, it was amazing to do low fly pasts and see my family and friends smiling and waving, just awesome and like nothing I ever done before, my cheeks were aching from smiling, I just didn't want the ride to stop!

I could go on and on about the flight it was honestly one of the best things I've ever done, anyone thinking about it I just say Go For It!!!... its a win, win, win event... you have the opportunity to do something you will rarely if ever get the chance to do! You will not only raise funds but also awareness of Tonic Music for Mental Heath and provoke discussions about mental health awareness and as an awesome bonus you will make lovely new friends in the Tonic family, as we left saying our goodbyes Jan "Ma Tonic" Hugged me and said "your one of us now... one of the family" that was a lovely moment I will never forget, Dawn also had nothing but lovely words about my family which as a struggling single Dad is just wonderful to hear.

Tonic Music for Mental Health and Tonic Rider are just a wonderful organisations, they make kindness cool you don't need a reason to join in the events or fundraising and you will have so much satisfaction from doing something positive and you will join an amazing family.

I've signed up for next year, why not do the same !

Chocks away Biggles!

Dave Morrall


You can sign up for next years Barry's Flying Circus by emailing


Still unsure? Well here are a few more images from the day - get involved and make a difference.

Many thanks to Jules Annan Photography for the use of images.



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