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Caroline Veal

Caroline Veal

Caroline Veal

It no longer matters!

Favourite discipline:
I’m definitely suited to the more floor-based disciplines, such as being an audience member!

Time/years active at Greentop:
1998 – 2014, as a fundraiser and Manager.

Where I am/what I am doing now:
Currently enjoying all my retirement, including time with my family, hill walking and travelling.

Favourite joke:
When the human cannonball finally retired at the end of a long and distinguished career, the circus were unable to replace him – they couldn’t find anyone else of the same calibre.

Quote summarising the impact Greentop has had on your life:
With Greentop, I achieved more I could never have imagined.

Your circus story:
I fell into Greentop by accident. I was looking for some voluntary work, my daughter who trained weekly at Greentop told me she was worried the organisation was in financial difficulties. I met with the then Chair of Trustees – Rob Locke – who told me that there were two areas of need – administration and fundraising, in one of those flashes that don’t happen often in life, I said I would do fundraising because I knew that you couldn’t administer anything without funds. I knew absolutely nothing about fundraising. I attended a six-week fundraising course and then, on my first application, raised £6000 for the Youth Circus – I was very pleased.  I discovered I had a knack for telling a good story about Greentop and carried on raising thousands and thousands of pounds for the circus. What motivated me to do it was all the astonishing things that I saw (and I include here the work of everyone working with children and young people from very deprived backgrounds) and the people that I met who were dedicated, skilful and fantastic to watch.

Early on I learnt a very valuable lesson from a foster parent at the Youth Circus. This lady told me that when her son first came to live with her, he was so traumatised he didn’t speak and he didn’t play. Gradually, through coming to the Youth Circus, he had started to play and then to speak. She told me that she thought Greentop gave all our children a voice. I realised then that Greentop gave everyone who came through the door a voice. We all have different sorts of voices. I found my voice as an advocate for a place I cared for deeply.

Greentop became regularly funded by Arts Council England, and through my visits to other circus schools in the UK a dialogue was set up to provide consistency and high standard of teaching. I had many challenges to grapple with, including calculating how many people we could get out of the doors in five minutes in the event of a fire during a public performance! I could not have done any of this without the guidance and care of everyone at Greentop. It was only by talking to people, watching them and listening to their advice that I learnt what the training, technical and artistic needs were, but there were many other external statutory requirements as well, such as obtaining a Public Performance licence, to be dealt with and here the Trustees gave me invaluable support by sharing their knowledge and experience. I suppose personally for me my proudest moment was being invited to meet the Prime Minister in recognition of Greentop’s work in deprived areas of South Yorkshire. I felt that Greentop was at last recognised for all the wonderful work it does and for which it deserves high praise.