Community circus comes to the rescue

Hastings Guerrilla Circus. Photo by Andy Wilson
Hastings Guerrilla Circus. Photo by Andy Wilson

A COMMUNITY circus group has raised more than £300 for people devastated by the Old Town fire which ravaged several buildings in Marine Court and left one woman, Pirkko Pellinen, badly injured on Sunday, May 24.

In a bid to raise money for the Phoenix Fund, set up by Old Town businesses for the fire victims, Hastings Guerrilla Circus took to the streets last Sunday (June 1), performing a range of colourful circus acts, which included juggling, unicycling and hooping, poi dancing, and flower sticks.

The group, created last year by Claire Cantrell to ‘develop a local circus community,’ raised £323.83 in just one afternoon.

Starting off outside Poundstretcher, the group walked to the Old Town, through George Street and then finished with performances at The Stade.

Laura Tyson, 32, of Hastings Guerrilla Circus, said: “We just wanted to help when found out about the fire. We found out about Pirkko’s situation and we’d met her the night before at our show as part of the Body Circus and then as soon as we knew it was her we were like ‘okay what shall we do‘ and Claire said ‘perhaps we should fundraise at Sunday’s meet’ and we were said ‘that’s a really good idea.’”

But the group ran in the problems when they realised they needed a permit to collect money, which normally takes 28 days to process, and it looked as though the event would have to be called off.

However several individuals and organisations, including the Old Town Traders Association and the Observer, contacted Hastings Borough Council and within 24 hours it had fast-tracked the application process.

The council has now issued the Phoenix Fund a collection licence until June 30.

Laura added: “The council has actually been stars. It has moved heaven and earth for us. It was so wonderful and to have this kind of feedback, and we raised quite a lot already. It is just overwhelming.

We had quite a few people who came specifically to see us. I am so happy we have been able to do this, it is brilliant! We had fun for a great cause. I love doing circusy things with circusy people and they are really good bunch of people. We love doing it and it’s for such a good cause, everyone that comes normally came to help but then we have people that haven’t been to a meet for a little while who came out especially to support us and give back. It’s lovely, amazing, I am so happy!” For more information about the Phoenix Fund visit