Astronaut’s visit to Kent travel shop inspires agent’s daughter to reach for stars

By Kelly Ranson
06/06/2024
Home » Astronaut’s visit to Kent travel shop inspires agent’s daughter to reach for stars

A US astronaut who visited a travel agency in Kent has inspired one of the staff’s children to dream of following in his footsteps.

Earlier this year retired NASA astronaut and ambassador for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Jose Hernandez visited the Virgin Holidays store in Bluewater Shopping Centre as part of tour with the UK travel trade.

During the visit, more than 100 customers and staff members met with Jose, who went to space in 2009, to hear about his adventures and how he was the first migrant farm worker to become an astronaut.

Sales consultant Kirsty Dove, 44, who has worked in the store for seven years, brought in four of her five children for a meet and greet with Jose.

Last week – a few months after the meeting – Kirsty discovered her nine-year-old daughter Livvy had been so inspired by the encounter she had created school project on space and now has dreams to become an astronaut.

Kirsty said: “The school had a ‘show and share’ morning last week and it was only then I  saw her project. Her teacher said that all she’s talking about is space, and that she wanted to be an astronaut. It was a shock to me – she never said anything before and I guess we all think becoming an astronaut is so far out of reach.

“Livvy is very shy but Jose included her in the conversations and made a fuss of her – she really was inspired by him. He’s made a real impact on her.”

Kirsty has taken her children to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in 2018, but as Livvy was so young, she doesn’t remember it.

She added: “The boys loved it and getting to see it all up close, but now Livvy is desperate to get out there again.”

Kirsty said Jose’s visit helped staff understand what the attraction has to offer and they are now more confident in selling it to customers.

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