As one who loves Gifford’s Circus I was saddened to read that Nel Gifford’s illness was not going as well as she would wish. In life we need examples rather than heroes and an example is exactly what Nel Gifford is. With her there is no complaining, no self-pity, just a desire to carry on. And carry on she does. Family life is obviously a proper priority and the circus goes from strength to strength.

It is in that respect that Nel is truly making a difference. Interest in circuses was falling. Gone were the days when animal acts entertained us and the whole circus ethos seemed a bit tired.

Nel Gifford and her team changed all that. Shows were created that excited all that saw them. Traditional circus entertainments such as acrobats and jugglers remained but there was minimal use of animals unless you count the wonderful wandering geese.

A lively band backed every act and happening, bringing a welcome musical element to proceedings and of course there was the clown. Of course that was the irrepressible Tweedy, delightful in the circus ring and of course in the Cheltenham pantomime. He is the most impish and irrepressible of clowns, and is capable of delighting all ages.

It is not possible to leave a Gifford’s performance without being enthused and cheered up. I have written before that tickets for their performances should be available on the National Health Service. Going to a show can do you so much good.

We in Gloucestershire could at one time claim the show as our own. Visitors used to come from far and wide to see it. They still do but our circus friends are now giving performances in prestigious places elsewhere.

Happily they will soon be returning to Minchinhampton and Stratton, near Cirencester. Driving across the common and seeing the evening circus lights twinkling as you look towards the church is one of the seven wonders of Gloucestershire. I shall drive to Minchinhampton especially to see that appealing sight.

Yes Mrs Gifford. The difference you have made, and are making is deep in so many of our hearts. Thank you.