Circus raising funds to help schools asks for community support to survive after Covid lockdowns deal huge blow to entertainment industry

A CIRCUS is asking for help from the community as it recovers from the blow Covid dealt to the entertainment industry.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 4:43 pm

Happy’s Circus For Schools says it is on the brink of collapse and will run out of money by the end of July.

Over the years, the circus has raised more than £12 million for schools and charities including several in the wider Portsmouth area, such as Berewood Primary School, Front Lawn Primary Academy, Gomer Infant School, Queen's Inclosure Primary School, Springwood Junior School, Orchard Lea Infant School, and Bidbury Junior School.

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Shaun and Pippa Lee with Russ Randell

However, the pandemic forced schools to cancel all their 2020 bookings and as a result, the circus could not work for 20 months.

A fundraiser has been launched to drum up enough financial support for the circus to survive.

Show manager Shaun Lee, who is from Portsmouth, met his wife Pippa at Happy’s Circus when she was a young trapeze artist.

The couple, who married in Portsmouth, are appealing for help for the circus.

Pippa said: ‘Over the years we have raised millions for organisations, we now need their help back.

‘We have many bookings for 2022 if we can survive 2021. We are due to perform at Victorious 2021 this year providing we can make it through this bad patch.’

The circus is run by Russ Randell - Happy the Clown - and his wife Pat.

They took out a £50,000 bounce back loan, raised £85,000 from a pension fund, and secured £210,000 from the Culture Recovery Grant fund, which meant that they were on track to start rehearsals in March before the second and third Covid waves hit.

Russ said: ‘We have some bookings for 2021 and you could help even more by booking us for September and October.

‘We will need an additional £180,000 to keep us going until we can start fundraising in April 2022 and continue to entertain, educate and fundraise for future generations of children.

‘All the money donated will be used to help keep Happy’s Circus alive.

“If you have enjoyed Happy’s Circus during the last 29 years or if you are a school that has benefited from fundraising with us, please, help us survive to continue our life’s work by donating whatever you can.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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