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COVER STORY

The Monte Carlo musical clowns.

LIFE’S A CIRCUS BY MARGARET MACCOLL he spectacle, glamour and extraordinary acts of the circus so gripped John Le Mare as a young boy in post WWII in England in the 1940s it left a fascination that continues today for the 82-year-old.His fascination with the circus is shared by his wife Angela and taken them on a journey rubbing shoulders with royalty and mixing with incredibly talented performers and exotic animals. John realised how the circus brought together people of many nationalities, who had been at war, but could work together so creatively and harmoniously. "I thought after school that's where I would work," he said. The Tewantin couple started by visiting circuses and getting to know the people behind the Big Top, eventually gaining their trust and in the 1990s established a stationary box office to sell tickets to Australian's travelling circuses. "We saw there was a need for it. While

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they were moving around they couldn't man a ticket office," Angela said. "We had a dedicated phone line for it. We found a lot of people wanted to buy tickets in the middle of the night." The business which began with two circuses moved online and grew as more circuses came on board. As their acceptance increased among the often family-run businesses John's roles have expanded to include secretary and treasurer for the Circus Federation of Australia. Australia has 10 travelling circuses as well as receiving visits from international circuses including Cirque De Soleil which has just announced its latest Australian tour in October titled Kurios. In the early 2000s Prince Rainier of Monaco who was also fascinated by circus wanted to set up a World Circus Federation. Unfortunately he passed away in 2005 before his dream was realised but the federation came to fruition in 2008 under the patronage of his daughter Princess Stephanie. Until his retirement this year and with

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the blessing of the Australian circuses John took on the role of founding director representing Australasia for the World Circus Federation, which is based in Monte Carlo. He worked alongside fellow directors who represented Europe, South Africa, USA, Canada and Monaco. His role involved representing circuses and circus interests including circus schools of which there are about 90 in Australia. "We spend a lot of time advocating for circuses," John said. Educating children of travelling artists to a country standard, workplace health and safety and the intangible world heritage of the circus were also issues under his concern as was animal welfare and animal husbandry. John became an adviser to the Australian and state governments when it came to matters of circus animal welfare. "The Australian Government, about 18 years ago decided to collect representatives from all bodies in Australia that used animals to get a standard of husbandry," he said.

John joined representatives from farming and rodeo operators to police and service dog organisations along with animal welfare organisations including the RSPCA and together they created booklets that are used as guides for animal husbandry. For the circus people it was the Welfare of Animals in Circuses booklet, which was published in 2003. "It keeps them on their toes," he said. "We were well represented from the circus by people who for generations have looked after animals. "People who work with animals tend to love their animals. If the animals didn't they wouldn't be that cooperative. You have to have a good relationship with them." While circuses in some countries overseas continue to have large numbers of animals those in Australia have come under a lot of criticism. A lot of unfair criticism, John said. "There's a small feeling in the community that it's not an appropriate place for animals," he said. noosatoday.com.au

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Noosa Today - 27th June 2019  

Noosa Today - 27th June 2019