Tributes are paid to Clown Town founder

Trevor Pharo pictured in the Observer in 1983 SUS-141124-155346001

Trevor Pharo pictured in the Observer in 1983 SUS-141124-155346001

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TRIBUTES have been paid to the man who brought the clowns to Bognor Regis.

Trevor Pharo, or Bingo the Clown, thought up the international clowns’ convention which put the town in the spotlight for the funnymen for years.

Hundreds of clowns met in Bognor every spring from the mid-80s to the mid-90s before a later revival. The highlight was the world convention in 1991.

A service of thanksgiving for his life was held on Monday in Storrington where he had lived for several years.

Mr Pharo passed away on November 9 aged 60. He married his husband, Ian, two months earlier.

His fellow clown, Middleton resident Hal Brooks, worked with him to launch the convention in 1985. “Trevor was the main person responsible for putting the convention together,” he said.

“He made a difference. I worked a lot with him. We’d been friends ever since and I’m sorry to hear that he has died.”

Trevor grew up in Croydon and never liked circuses as a young child. His attitude changed in 1969 when he became a friend of the Smart circus family which ran a safari park near his home. He was shown the tricks of the trade by a clown called Smarty and went on to become a jester at royal events and as the first clown to go to Hawaii.

He combined his clowning with a job as a graphic art equipment salesman. Another of his joint founders of the convention, Don Stacey, said: “Trevor was a marvellous person.

“It was Trevor who had the idea for the convention. It was completely his idea and nobody else’s. I helped him with another person called David Barnes.

“Trevor knew Hal and brought him on board as well because he was involved with a lot of schools. Trevor put together all the financial backing and sponsorship.”

Mr Pharo left after the fifth convention in a dispute with Clowns’ International.

He returned to watch some of the later conventions before they ended in March, 2013.

Mr Stacey came across him when he booked him to appear at a new hypermarket in 1979. They had remained friends since then.

“I more or less became his booking agent after that,” he said. “We did lots and lots of shows together. He was always willing to do the charity shows.”

Mr Pharo appeared in the Children’s Royal Performance before Princess Margaret in 1988, alongside the likes of Ken Dodd. He also performed in front of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana in 1982. He was a strong supporter of the Dreamflights charity.

Mr Pharo is survived by his three children and two grandchildren.