A MUCH LOVED member of the Chelsea Arts Club who died in an Egyptian air balloon accident last Tuesday is being remembered by his friends and colleagues.
Joe Bampton died alongside his girlfriend Zsi Gyetvai in the tragic accident during a holiday to celebrate his 40th birthday.
Both Joe and his girlfriend worked at Lots Road Auction House which is where they met and fell in love five years ago.
Mr Bampton, who was an expert valuer in rugs, carpets and antiques, studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and had works exhibited in London, Paris and Berlin.
Joe was also captain of the snooker team at the Chelsea Arts Club and the current Club champion and was due to defend his crown last night.
Devastated friend and colleague at Lots Road Auction House Roger Ross, who has known Joe for over 18 years said today that life will never be the same again since loosing Joe and Zsi in such tragic circumstances.
He said: "We are very much like a family here and Joe has been an integral part of the team for many many years. And to loose both of them is heart breaking. They bought a dog last year which very quickly became the Auction House pet. The met here and fell in love here. They went away to Egypt for his 40th birthday and we were all looking forward to having him back and watching him defend his Snooker title at the Club last night.
"In the 18 years I've know him I have never had a cross word with him. Which is extraordinary. We will be planning a memorial event for him where we will all get together. But it is all so raw at the moment. Members of staff have been offering to come in to cover his shifts for free. Everyone is really pulling together."
The members and staff of the Chelsea Arts Club were extremely shocked and saddened to hear about the death of one our most popular members; Joe Bampton.
Rob Kennedy from the Chelsea Arts Club said: "Joe, who had recently celebrated his 40th birthday here at the Club, was the captain of our snooker team, and the current Club champion. He has been described by the rest of the team as being far and away the most talented player the Club has ever known. Although he was the best player in the Club, everyone always enjoyed playing against him, because of his friendly and modest nature.
"As well as being a talented snooker player, Joe was also a gifted artist. He combined photography, sculpture and installation to create intimate worlds the size of shoe boxes, which were viewed through spy hole door viewers to give the viewer the impression they were looking into a full size room. An exhibition of his work here at the Chelsea Arts Club included an incredible replica of the very room which was displaying the works, and of course sold out very quickly.
"Joe will be greatly missed by the members and staff of the Chelsea Arts Club, who will remember him as a shy, modest, talented and over all extremely nice man. We would like to extend our sympathies to his family and friends."
Egyptian authorities have now launched an investigation after the hot air balloon that Joe Bampton and his girlfriend Zsi Gyetvai were in crashed 1,000 feet to the ground, killing 19 tourists who had taken a sunrise flight near the ancient city of Luxor.
Witnesses described seeing people leaping out of the balloon as it was on fire. The casualties included British, French, Belgian, Hungarian and Japanese nationals and nine tourists from Hong Kong, the Luxor governor, Ezzat Saad, told reporters.