THE REAL-LIFE SIDESHOW BOB?: Fundraising clown criminalised by UK council


Manchester – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

A man dressed as a clown who was fundraising for victims of terrorism found himself accosted by council workers who confiscated his donations bucket, SWNS news agency reported this Friday.

Pensioner Tommy Armstrong, from Greenock in Inverclyde, Scotland, had visited the city of Manchester in England to collect spare change for victims of the recent suicide bombing there, when employees of the Manchester city council approached him while he was about to collect donations for a special charity 10-kilometre fun run he was due to take part in. The council staff demanded to see Tommy’s fundraising permit, which he did not have. They then allegedly emptied his bucket and confiscated the donations. Armstrong was said to have been left ‘close to tears’ by the incident. At that time, he was dressed in full clown costume and face make-up.



Armstrong has raised nearly £200,000 for charity in a fundraising career spanning thirty years and has frequented the streets of Manchester for the past decade. He was renowned in his native city for his habit of dressing in complete clown regalia to entertain shoppers and tourists and gather money for charity. He had even appeared on a daytime TV show ‘This Morning’ with the ITV terrestrial station last year. He told SWNS: My race didn’t start until 3pm, so I went to St Ann’s Square first to see the flowers that have been left there in tribute to the victims.

‘I was wearing my clown’s gear and pushing my usual pram with the bucket on it.’

‘I didn’t ask anyone for money at that stage, but many people had put notes and coins into the bucket.’

‘Two officials came up to me and asked if I had a permit to raise money for the fund.’

‘I told them I had been raising money at Manchester and other big races around the country like the London Marathon for years, and I had never heard anything about a permit.’

‘They took my bucket and counted all the money on a wall. People were walking past wondering what was going on.’

‘It was really embarrassing and made me feel like they thought I was trying to collect money for myself. They were very rude and treated me like a criminal.”

The donations confiscated by Manchester council was believed to be in the region of £44. Tommy Armstrong also told SWNS that he felt the council’s rough treatment of him was unwarranted and that they should offer an apology. He added: They gave me a piece of paper with their names and a phone number for Manchester Council, asked for my name and address and said they would send a receipt, but I still haven’t received a thing.

‘These guys hounded me. I was really angry about it and close to tears. They even took my sign away from me.’

‘I travelled down there at my own expense on an overnight bus to try and help, but their attitude seemed to be that I was dressed as a clown so they would treat me like a clown. I think I should get an apology.”

Manchester City Council said that they had required fundraisers collecting money for victims of the Ariana Grande concert attack to carry officially issued permits after a number of fraudulent fundraising drives were reported to them in the days after the atrocity, in which local man Salman Abedi detonated an improvised shrapnel bomb at the Manchester Arena, killing himself and 22 concertgoers, many of whom were parents and children.

A spokesperson for the council told SWNS: “Difficult though it is to countenance, some unscrupulous individuals do exploit the name of charitable funds for their own personal gain.

‘To protect the public from these bogus collectors, people wishing to collect cash donations at public events need to apply for and carry an official permit.’

‘Members of our team spoke with Mr Armstrong to explain that because he did not have a permit, the money he had collected from the public would be taken and deposited with the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund on his behalf.’

‘There is no suggestion that Mr Armstrong’s motives were anything other than good, and we hope that he will understand that the permit process exists with the important aim of protecting the public from rogue collectors.’

‘The money he raised will help to support those who have been injured or bereaved by the attack.”


“Charity Clown Treated Like a “Criminal” By Council Workers” – SWNS digital/72Point (9 June 2017)


“Hobo the Clown” – Shawn Tron (12 November 2011)


WORK CHARITY EVENT: 3 Peaks Challenge with Informa

Multinational events and conferences company Informa is inviting its employees in the United Kingdom to participate in a special challenge this May to raise money for a young people’s charity.

The Informa ‘3 Peaks Challenge’  will see volunteer employees participate in a special mountaineering expedition, all in aid of a worthwhile charity, that will see them scale three of Britain’s tallest and most majestic mountain peaks. Would-be Edmund Hillarys and Tenzing Norgays will be able to climb Ben Nevis in ScotlandScafell Pike in England, and Snowdon in Wales; all in a space of only 24 hours. Ben Nevis will be the first to be climbed, before participants race across the UK mainland to climb England and Wales‘ tallest mountains with less than a weekend to complete the challenge.

(c) Informa plc.
(c) Informa plc.

The event is in aid of Informa’s charitable partner, the Prince’s Trust, which aims to give disadvantaged young people a new start in life with training for job opportunities and help in becoming self-made business entrepreneurs. In May, the peak time for expeditions, mountaineers will first travel via coach to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands from where they will tackle the snow-capped Ben Nevis, Scotland’s tallest mountain. After conquering Nevis, they will head south of the border to take on Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, situated deep within the picturesque Lake District national park. Then across to the wild lands of Wales where Snowdon is up next. The 3 Peaks Challenge has been described as a ‘tough event’ by its organisers and volunteers will have little time for sleep, the organisers warn. Participants are expected to have good levels of fitness and be able to persevere on minimal comfort and sleep, and are advised to follow a fitness plan before undertaking the trek, one of which will be sent out upon application or downloadable from the website of the tour company appointed by Informa to manage the 3 Peaks Challenge’s logistics.

As of January 2015, 22 Informa employees have signed up for the event, which is scheduled to take place over the weekend commencing Friday May 22nd and finishing on Sunday May 24th. The following Monday is a national bank holiday, so weary and sore 3 Peakers will be able to rest their feet and recuperate from the arduous, but fun, trekking journey through some of Britain’s most awe-inspiring natural scenery. The company is now in the process of encouraging more employees to take on this gruelling challenge and help transform young lives.

All guiding on the Three Peaks will be undertaken by experienced and trained mountain guides who know the local areas climbers will be visiting. The total horizontal distance covered via walking will be 42 kilometres, with a total of 3 kilometres vertically along with ten hours of driving time allocated between the climbing spots.

To take part, participants are asked to pay a registration fee of £99 and in addition, raise £650 (plus any additional amounts raised) for the Prince’s Trust. A complementary £99 will be added to your fundraising page by Informa. Participating staff will also receive an extra day of annual leave to complete the challenge. A minimum of £520 must be raised 10 weeks prior to departure. By getting on board now, participants will have 6 months’ training and fundraising prep time. Enlistment for the Informa 3 Peaks Challenge is via a special webpage hosted by the outdoors tour company Maximum Adventures or via the company’s intranet. The Challenge is only open to current employees of Informa plc. within the UK.

DISCLAIMER: I am a current employee of Informa and this article is based on an email from the corporate responsibility department. This is my way of showing pride for my place of work, and is not intended as a means of promotion for the company.

This article is dedicated to my dear friend and colleague Noor, who I have had the pleasure of working with for six years. He has now left the company to join a firm near west London as a database administrator. Noor has also been an occasional contributor for the Half-Eaten Mind.  I wish him all the best in his new job.

Email from Fiona Gibson, Corporate Responsibility Executive at Informa.
“Informa 3 Peaks Challenge” – Maximum Adventure/Informa