“THERE is something magical about balloons, there really is,” said Aga Gabrysiak.

“It doesn’t matter what age a person is – the moment you hand a balloon to a person it brings a smile.”

Quite why that is, she isn’t sure. Could it be something to do with childhood memories?

“It may be, but I think a lot of it is this movement they make – you have something floating!”

Aga is at pains to stress the distinction between balloon art, which is what she does, and balloon modelling.

“Balloon modelling is a different thing. They are the people who are twisting balloons, making animals from balloons, and they are very talented people, but I have no idea how to do it except for a simple flower and things like that.”

A balloon artist, in contrast, arranges balloons of different shapes, sizes and colours to make models and displays for anything from family celebrations to parades such as the Disney Pride gathering in Munich last month, when the pieces she worked on were seen by thousands of people.

Aga is originally from Polish city Poznan.

“In Poland I was in sales for all my life, pretty much. I was selling to wholesalers and retailers. For the last six years I was working in the gift industry in Poland, and this is how I met my fiancé, Richard.

“He was working in the gift industry in the UK and we met at the NEC Spring Fair.”

The annual event in Birmingham is one of the gift industry’s biggest trade fairs. Aga and Richard fell in love, and Aga moved to the UK, although she admits initially having no idea what career to pursue.

Trying the restaurant trade taught her a great deal about working with the public and the importance of seeking out the right stock, and three years ago the couple became proprietors of Highworth Emporium.

“It’s gifts, greetings cards, candles, picture frames, chocolate, balloons, jewellery, fashion – you name it and we probably have it!”

Earlier this year, the business won a major industry accolade - Independent Gift Retailer of the Year.

“I don’t think I noticed balloons until I moved to the UK. A friend of mine, Lou, from Manchester, introduced me to the balloon industry.

“I was impressed and wowed by what you can do with them because for me, like for many people, a balloon was a simple thing on a string.

“Balloons are so much more. A few months before we took over the shop we knew we’d have balloons, so I started attending special courses, networking with people.

“What I discovered was that it’s an amazing, very positive, happy industry. The balloon side of our business is called Balloons are Fun, and they do bring fun and joy.

“The first big display was wedding décor a couple of weeks after we took over the shop. A lovely lady, Linda, who is a loyal customer now, came to the shop and said she always liked to support local businesses, that she loved balloons and wanted something exciting.”

Aga was greatly encouraged by the success of that initial project, which included table decorations floor decorations and even a balloon sculpture of a bride and groom.

Many other projects followed, including major public art such as a piece last Christmas, when Aga was invited to Wales to help build a huge diorama with a magical castle, a mountain background and nutcracker soldiers.

She admits to having been moved almost to tears on seeing the completed installation, which toured hospitals and schools.

Last October saw her become one of a handful of officially-certified balloon artists in the county. Certification involves taking a series of stringent tests covering everything from composition and technique to environmentally-conscious disposal.

“Everyone can inflate balloons; what makes people more professional about it is if they are creative and have a taste which appeals to people – good eye coordination and the ability to balance elements of design and colour. You have to have a feel for it.”

Aga can be contacted at shop@highworthemporium.co.uk