Oh, what a circus.Byline: Ali Stokes
The circus is a family traditon for the famous Cottles, as Ali Stokes discovered
WITH a name like Gerry Cottle it might have seemed inevitable that the son of one of Britain's top circus impresarios would follow in the family tradition.
But despite having two circus performers for parents and a childhood surrounded by acrobatic sisters, pet elephants and showpeople, Gerry Cottle Jr took his dad's advice and got out of the business when he was a teenager.
For more than three decades Gerry Cottle Senior has been a major player on the British circus circuit.
He was hooked from an early age when his grandfather took him to see the Bertram Mills Bertram Wagstaff Mills (August 1873 - April 16, 1938) was a British circus owner. Originally from Paddington, London, his circus became famous in the UK for its Christmas shows at Olympia in West London. show in London's Olympia and he knew Gerry knew his future lay in the big top.
And as soon as he was old enough he ran off and joined a circus, where he met his wife, the dog-trainer Betty Fossett.
Running their own show and with numerous TV appearances in the Seventies, the name Gerry Cottle was established among the British circus families like Billy Smart and Chipperfield.
And within the first three months of Gerry Junior being born, the family had travelled to Norway, Sweden and Singapore, with the show.
Gerry Jr's older sisters Sarah, Polly and April were all involved in the family business, juggling, riding horses and aerial acrobats.
And after studying marketing at college, 20-year-old Gerry Junior is now back within the family business fold, promoting his dad's touring circus shows including, The Chinese State Circus The Chinese State Circus is a touring circus which aims to present the Chinese circus arts to European audiences. The show is based on Chinese acrobatic acts. All the performers come from China and are trained in the Chinese Tradition of horse theatre or Ma Xi. which is currently at Sophia Gardens Sophia Gardens is a sporting venue on the west bank of the River Taff in Cardiff, one mile north of Cardiff Arms Park and is named after Sophia Rawdon-Hastings. Daughter of the 1st Marquess of Hastings and wife to the 2nd Marquess of Bute, Sophia Rawdon-Hastings was concerned to , Cardiff.
"As far back as I can remember I always performed tricks, whether it was juggling or pretending to walk the tight rope, " said Gerry, who is now based at the family headquarters in Surrey.
"It just came naturally like learning to read and write, " he said.
By the time he was four he was making appearances in the circus ring as an accessory in the clown acts and within four years he has graduated to helping with the elephant acts.
"It was a great life for a kid, " said Gerry, who would spend the school term at his family home, a 15 acre farm in Surrey, then spend the holidays on the road with the performers.
"When I was younger I had a little silky silky
female spirit who does household chores. [Br. Folklore: Briggs, 364–365]
See : Domesticity costume and I would go into the ring with the elephants. My sisters would be riding them and I would play catch with them and squirt water into their mouths, " he recalled.
"When we went to Eastbourne we would take the elephants swimming in the sea and the local kids would come down to watch.
"The only time I've ever seen my dad cry was when we had to get rid of all the animals. And he had to sell Rani ra·ni also ra·nee
n. pl. ra·nis also ra·nees
1. The wife of a rajah.
2. A princess or queen in India or the East Indies. the elephant.
"Rani was the first elephant he ever bought.
They'd been together for 20 years and he would even walk to the shops with my dad. And it broke his heart to let him go." In the last 10 years, since animal acts were outlawed in Britain, the circus business has moved on and the name Gerry Cottle lives on within the European Entertainment Corporation.
The company owned by Gerry Senior and partner Brian Austen is responsible for touring the Moscow State Circus The Moscow State Circus
The Moscow State Circus is a touring UK circus owned and run by the European Entertainment Corpororation. The circus is on tour until October 2007. The circus started in around 1998 when it leased artists from the The Great Moscow Circus in Russia. , the shockrock Circus of Horrors, the Cottle and Austen Circus and the Chinese State Circus.
His oldest sister Sarah, 31, has retired as a bareback rider and runs a florist shop. April, 28, is a juggler juggler
Entertainer who keeps several plates, knives, balls, or other objects in the air at once by tossing and catching them. The art of juggling has been practiced since antiquity. and currently manages and runs the box office at the Cottle and Austen Circus. And Polly, 26, is an aerial artist working at a theme park.
And as for Gerry Jr, he's just taken over his Uncle Sonny son·ny
n. pl. son·nies
Used as a familiar form of address for a boy or young man.
[Diminutive of son. Fossett's clown show, where he puts his juggling and clowning skills to good use at weekends.
"One thing my father always instilled in us as children was to follow your dreams, " said Gerry Jr.
"That's what he did and it's the one valuable lesson I've learned. I would like to go to learn how to run festivals and clubs and bring something new to our family business.
"But there are times when I'm sitting at my desk and I miss being in the circus ring."
The Chinese State Circus is at Sophia Garden, Cardiff, until April 7.
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY Gerry Cottle Sr, far right, and inset Gerry Jr clowning around.