Check in with ...Patricia Pearce
Since joining the company in the swinging 60’s, Patricia Pearce has become the heart and soul of the airline’s philanthropic pursuits, all thanks to her charity, Dreamflight.
A Cabin Service Director around the world for nearly four decades, in-flight extrodinairre Patricia Pearce took her flying career to new heights when she co-founded Dreamflight: the inspirational charity that sees children with serious illness or disability embark on the holiday of their lives. A matriarch of the business and philanthropist to her core, Patricia talks memorable flights, royal encounters, and giving back at 35,000ft.
What has been your favourite travel experience?
The two months in 1974 when I was on the Queen’s Flight. We took the Queen from Honolulu in Hawaii to Rarotonga, one of the Southern Cook Islands, before flying on to New Zealand. The last night before we left, we were all invited on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was an amazing time, being that close to the monarch.
Which country most sticks out in your memory?
It’d have to be Australia. We used to stay in Darwin, in a coastal surburb called Fannie Bay. I’ll never forget the hotel’s sign, which read: ‘thongs and vest must be worn in the bar after six o’clock’ (thongs, in Australian slang, meaning flip flops).
Where is on your bucket list and why?
I’d like to go back to South America and see some more of it, especially down to the southernmost parts. I think this time I’d fly into Rio, and then just keep making my way down.
“When us cabin crew used to be on standby, if you were called out you’d often have an hour and a half to get your suitcase and get to the airport, whether it be for a two-day trip or a 21 day trip. That was a big learning curve.”
What’s your go-to travel hack or packing tip?
The week before I travel, I start to throw things on the spare bed that I need to take. I also have a drawer in which I keep things I take on every trip, toiletries and the like. Years ago, when us cabin crew used to be on standby, if you were called out you’d often have an hour and a half to get to the airport, whether it be for a two-day trip or a 21 day trip. That was a big learning curve.
“My favourite philanthropist is Harris Rosen, a very charming hotelier who gives a lot away to charity; he gives Dreamflight a $15,000 donation every year.”
Where are your favourite places in the UK?
Southampton has a great shopping scene, and I like to see all the cruise ships go by. I’ve also done a few trips to Edinburgh, which is a beautiful city. Finally, Guernsey. My aunt and my grandparents used to live there and it’s where I spent all my school holiday. I returned recently and fell in love with it all over again.
Where’s your favourite London hangout?
I loved going to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park when we had the Olympic Games here back in 2012. One of my past Dream Flight children who’s now a patron, Liz Johnson, was competing, and I saw her get her bronze medal.
What does being British mean to you?
I’m very proud to be a Brit. One thing I’m especially proud of, which is something a lot of other countries don’t have, is our monarchy. It’s a special thing to have and brings a lot of tourism to the country and, as result, money to the ecomony.
What does it feel like being part of the BA100?
I can’t believe it, honestly - I just feel extremely honoured to be chosen.
What is your favourite memory of travelling with BA?
There are so many, but one outstanding trip was when we took Prince William to Nairobi. He noticed my name badge and asked me what I got my MBE for. I said, “It’s for a charity I started. Your mother actually came to wave us off on our very first trip at Heathrow.” He totally surprised me by saying, “I remember her coming home and telling us about it at dinner that night.”
Who is your favourite philanthropist?
Harris Rosen, a very charming hotelier and hospitality icon in the Orlando area who gives a lot away to charity; he gives Dreamflight a $15,000 donation every year.
What is the last good cause you’ve given money to?
The Air Ambulance Service, because they do a fantastic job and rely on voluntary contributions.