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Funfair freebie for Flybe folk

David Rowland extends offer to families

A Devon funfair proprietor wants to track down as many former Flybe employees as possible and give them free rein over the next week or so whilst they're in Exeter.

David Rowland, who runs the eponymous fair, asks that everyone spreads the word so that as many families as possible enjoy all the fun of the fair - on him. 

Mr Rowland, a sprightly 73, says he's enjoyed flying with the now-grounded Exeter airline and was always treated fabulously well and with a smile. He had been booked to fly from Exeter only next week, but those arrangements, like those for other affected passengers, have now changed. 

"The day they went into administration and I saw them coming out with tears in their eyes...well, I'd like to bring a bit of happiness back into their lives and a smile," he told Radio Exe in a short interview you can view here.

Any former Flybe employees are asked to turn up with some form of identification that shows they were working with the firm to gain entry to the fairground, access all rides, and get free candy floss for their children. "If they want to bring grandma and granddad, that's fine too," says Mr Rowland.

Responding to the gesture on the Radio Exe Facebook page, Teignmouth's mayor Robert Phipps says: "This is nothing new for David Rowland. He supports many groups with his generosity ," such as Teignmouth Carnival and air show and the mayors' charities over the years. 

Hannah Stoyles writes: "What a kind gesture; above and beyond. It would be lovely to see some happiness in our boys' eyes after a week of hard times and to forget about it [the Flybe situation] for a few hours. A massive thanks." 

Michael Hurford says: "It's heartwarming to see such community spirit and generosity."

Mr Rowland says funfairs have gone through a tough few years, partly economic, partly weather-related, with 2019 being particularly badly hit with bad weather. But even though young people have many other forms of entertainment, a traditional family funfair does allow people to enjoy one another's company, with music, laughter "and the smell of hot dogs and candy floss." And whatever the economic situation, or the risk of viruses, his family business has come through many things before. "We've been in this kind of business on my mother's side since 1652," he says.

David Rowland's Funfair is at Exeter Arena until Saturday 21 March.


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