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Running away with the circus

Contributed by Emma Richardson

2018 marks 250 years since a man named Philip Astley marked out a ring and filled it with trick riders, jugglers and acrobats, and circus as we know it was born.

Last summer, girls from 40th Sutton Coldfield Brownies, 215th Brownies, 40th Sutton Coldfield Rainbows and a variety of Guides visited CircusMash in Kings Heath for a circus workshop that got them upside down, high in the air and on one leg.

30 girls and 5 leaders boarded the bus in Walmley and travelled over to Kings Heath in the worst rain we have ever seen. A quick run through the puddles and we were in CircusMash’s space – a playground of equipment and enthusiasm. Joe Fearn, director of CircusMash, set us off on an unbelievably fiendish warm up (Circus 2, Brownies 1, Leaders 0) and then started by teaching the girls to juggle. There were balls (and Brownies) everywhere, but several new jugglers were discovered.

The girls had been promised we’d get them in the air, and CircusMash didn’t disappoint. From the rafters swung down a static trapeze and an aerial hammock, and the tightwire appeared in the middle of the room.

Nerina had everyone hanging by their knees from the trapeze, and then learning tricks. Katie had the girls spinning and tying themselves in knots in the aerial hammock. Rachel got them all walking in a straight line, and then put them on the tightwire and Joe had balls being juggled and plates being spun all around the room. Even tidying up was circus-style as the girls had to juggle the mats back to their homes.

All the girls had a brilliant time and definitely earned their circus performer badges. Most were asking how soon they could come back as we headed back out to our bus.

CircusMash can be contacted at or via social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). They are based at in the All Saints Centre, Vicarage Road, Kings Heath and can be found teaching and performing all around Birmingham over the summer.