(WEDNESDAY JANUARY 17) A HOT air balloon enthusiast from Marsworth who was
killed in a sledging accident in Italy was described by his closest friends
last night (Tuesday) as a hard- working guy who would do anything for
Christopher Williams, 45, known as Rick, was travelling down a ski run in
the Alps when the sledge he was in collided with a hard object, reported to
be a snowmobile at 50 miles per hour.
Mr Williams, a tree surgeon by profession, died at the scene near San
Candido, Italy, where he had been on his third visit to an annual balloon
Robin Batchelor, 58, had known Mr Williams for 15 years as he was a hot air
balloon pilot and Mr Williams was a crew member on his balloon. The pair
would often travel all round the world together for different events.
Mr Batchelor, said: "Rick always had plenty of irons in the fire and he
could turn his hand to all sorts of things.
"He was a very hard working guy, you can sometimes have to work some
anti-social hours in the ballooning world but he would always agree to take
part in any scheme I dreamed up."
"As a pilot you need crew members who can read a map, steer all day and
night, collect propane and Rick was extremely useful because he was so
versatile," he said.
Mr Williams travelled to many different places in the world to go ballooning
including Europe and South America and helped crew the balloon that was used
in the feature film Enduring Love and also worked on the set of the James
Bond film The World Is Not Enough.
Mr Williams, who lived in Long Marston near Tring for a number of years, was
a member of the Tring Choral Society, regularly appeared in the village
pantomime, was involved with the horticultural society and also did some
work for the parish council.
Simon Askey, 33, who was best friends with Mr Williams said: "He was very
charismatic. He could charm the birds from the trees. He was a very well
liked chap and always had a way of making people smile.
"Not a lot scared Rick but he knew his limits and would only ever take
calculated risks. He managed to pack more into his 45 years than three
people fit into their whole life."
17 January 2007