Nell Gifford funeral: Celebrities among mourners in Gloucester

Nell GiffordImage copyright Giffords Circus
Image caption Nell Gifford co-founded Giffords Circus in 2000

The co-founder of one of the UK’s best-known travelling circuses was described as “a magician” at her funeral.

Actress Helena Bonham-Carter made the comment in a eulogy for Nell Gifford, who set up Giffords Circus 20 years ago.

Ms Gifford was laid to rest at Gloucester Cathedral in a service attended by fashion, TV and sports personalities.

She died in December 2019 aged 46 after a long battle with breast cancer.

Image caption Actress Helena Bonham-Carter (left) was one of the mourners at the service in Gloucester

Cotswold-based Giffords Circus was set up by Ms Gifford and her then husband Toti in 2000.

Her friend Helena Bonham Carter read Prospero’s farewell speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest during the service.

She told the congregation Ms Gifford was Prospero – a wizard and magician.

Former England and Arsenal footballer Tony Adams, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and BBC Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison were also among the mourners.

Gifford’s Circus director Cal McCrystal said the mother-of-two children was “courage, defiance and glamour personified”.

Image caption Circus performers and celebrities attended Nell Gifford’s funeral

One of the last messages she sent her sister, Clove Stroud, was also read out to those gathered in the cathedral.

“Live and love fiercely and, wherever possible, rave on,” it said.

At the end of the service, horses carried Ms Gifford’s coffin, which bore the message ‘In the Land of Pure Magic’ on the side, away in a carriage.

The circus, which tours the UK twice year, has showcased performers from across the world over the past two decades.

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