Wed, 15 Jul 2020
THEY’RE going home.
Eight international circus performers who were stranded in Newbury, unable to perform since March 15 due to the coronavirus lockdown, are on their way back to Mongolia.
The artists, who had been living at Zippos Circus in Enborne, had managed to raise enough money from family and friends to afford flights from Istanbul to Mongolia, but had been in desperate need of funds for a flight from Heathrow to Istanbul.
Their prayers have now been answered after fundraising efforts through the Newbury Weekly News, Portsmouth-based charity Caritas and a discretionary grant from West Berkshire Council raised enough money to pay for the flights.
They departed London on July 8 and the next day flew back to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia.
Zippos Circus founder and director Martin Burton, said: “They’re delighted that they’ll soon be home with their families.
“Some of them won’t have seen their children or families for 18 months.
“It’s particularly trying because if coronavirus wasn’t enough in their lives, they heard a few days ago that the bubonic plague is now rife in Mongolia.
“They’re keen to get home and be with their families and children and to look after them.”
It was reported by the NWN on June 11 that the Mongolian performers were seeking around £6,000 to be able to go home after being left with no work and with no recourse to public funds due to their Tier 5 visas.
The group survived on donations from strangers and from West Berkshire Foodbank.
After fundraising efforts by charities such as Caritas, the social action agency of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, there was a shortfall of around £2,500.
This was raised by a special discretionary grant from West Berkshire Council, which all local authorities nationally are encouraged to give to businesses who don’t pay business rates.
Mr Burton thanked the people of Newbury on behalf of the performers.
He continued: “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Newbury Weekly News.
“The performers are all tremendously grateful to the people of Newbury for enabling them to get home safely.
“They’re circus artists, so they want to live and perform at a circus and they’re very sorry they’ve been unable to do that since March 15, but they’ve enjoyed their time in West Berkshire.
“They’ve been spending their time today [Tuesday] with a number of other circus artists handing a letter to the Prime Minister in London trying to persuade him to remember that circuses exist, because he seems to have forgotten.
“We hope they do return to us, but it won’t be until 2021 at the very earliest.”