Giffords Circus’ Tweedy the Clown in New Year Honours 2023

CIRCUS legend Tweedy the Clown has been named in the New Year Honours for bringing joy to thousands with his hilarious pranks and tomfoolery. 

The Giffords Circus performer, whose real name is Alan Digweed, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the circus and to the community in Stroud. 

He is one of two recipients from Stroud to receive a royal award in the 2023 New Year Honours. 

Speaking to the SNJ, the entertainer, who has been part of Giffords Circus for more than 15 years, said he first thought the nomination was a ‘prank’.

“I did think it was a prank at first,” he said. 

“A clown to be awarded a medal in the New Year’s Honours list isn’t something you’d expect at all.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be recognised alongside such inspiring people and to have circus and clowning included on the list. 

Stroud News and Journal:

“My job is simply to spread joy whilst acting the fool, and it is such a privilege to be able to do so. 

Tweedy, who was born in Aberdeen, had wanted to be a clown from an early age and was inspired by slapstick cartoons and comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

“I went to Butlin’s in Ayr, Scotland, but I didn’t know how to become a clown at the time, there was no Google back then, so I taught myself how to juggle and unicycling and did shows there. 

“I then joined the circus the year after and learnt on the road, with some other clowns.

“Being with the circus is very different – it’s a great kind of lifestyle. 

Stroud News and Journal:

“It’s a travelling community, which is what I love about it, and you all kind of work together and pitch in together.”

With his bright dyed hair, zany humour and comic antics – Tweedy is now a much-loved figure of Stroud and is also committed to helping the community. 

This year he raised more than £1,400 for Maggie’s cancer support charity, dedicating his fundraising efforts to Gifford’s Circus founder Nell Gifford, who died of breast cancer in 2019.

Meanwhile, in November he became patron of family support charity Home-Start which he described as an ‘honour’. 

Stroud News and Journal: Tweedy took part in in Maggie’s run 50 miles challenge in January - raising almost £2,000 - along the canalTweedy took part in in Maggie’s run 50 miles challenge in January – raising almost £2,000 – along the canal (Image: Newsquest)

Cal McCrystal, the director of the Giffords Circus, said Tweedy brings ‘utter joy’ to their audiences every summer and is ‘delighted’ for his recognition.

He said: “Giffords Circus is proud to congratulate Tweedy on his richly deserved recognition in the New Year Honours list.

“We applaud his services to the Arts, his professionalism, his generosity of spirit, his dedication to the local community through his charity work – but most of all, we thank him for his comic genius which brings utter joy to audiences of all ages throughout the year, and especially each summer at Giffords Circus.

“Your entire Giffords Circus family are absolutely delighted.

“Well done, Tweedy, you are a star.”

Tweedy is currently starring in the Dick Whittington And His Cat Tweedy panto at Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham.

He returns to the Giffords Circus big top in 2023 in a new UK tour that opens on April 6 in Stroud.

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