It is impossible to not belatedly pay tribute to Gerry Cottle who sadly died during a Covid peak in January.

Gerry’s story has been well covered in the media – the boy who fell in love with the magic of the circus and turned his back on possibly following in his father’s footsteps as a successful stockbroker.

Instead he allowed his passion for circus and entertainment to guide him, He taught himself how to juggle, how to clown and, most importantly how to let his imagination run riot and become probably the greatest showman of his era.

From a small village green circus in a marquee he – for several years with his pal and business partner Brian Austen – grew that circus into a major show with all the classic animal attractions as well as thrilling international acts. The greatest ingredient was Gerry’s flair for showmanship, his ability to grab attention with a strongman who had a Range Rover run over him, with a contortionist who could get in and out of a bottle and all kinds of other headline-demanding acts and stunts.

A few years ago Gerry decided to retire – sort of. In fact he took over Wookey Hole visitor attraction in Somerset and ran a circus from there as well as numerous other shows. Just as he could not resist circus as a boy, he could never actually retire.

During his career Gerry had his ups and downs but was never beaten. Sadly he lost the fight to Covid.

Gerry was a friend for many years and was also a great supporter of Encore!

What else can one say about him? Simply this – he was indeed a magnificent showman.

Bernard Bale

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