Clowns Without Borders use The Broons to help refugees laugh

Margot McLaughlin volunteers for Clowns without Borders
Margot McLaughlin volunteers for Clowns without Borders
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A SCOTTISH clown is helping refugee children laugh again - with inspiration from The Broons.

Margot McLaughlin grew up in Glasgow and Grangemouth and fondly remembers laughing at the legendary Sunday cartoon characters.

Margot McLaughlin

Margot McLaughlin

As a volunteer for charity Clowns Without Borders she uses the Broons, 70s TV series Scotch and Wry, and even Irn Bru to make kids laugh in refugee camps thousands of miles away.

Margot, whose main job is performing to children in Paris hospitals, has visited victims of the Boxing Day tsunami in India, and performed to 130,000 refugees who fled civil war in Burundi, Africa.

She said: “I was brought up in Scotland, with The Broons, with Scotch and Wry, and Irn Bru, and tatties, so that comes up in the way I perform.

“Your clown character is to do with who you are. It’s all part of my makeup. How does it come out?“

I think of Scottish people as being really hearty, down-to-earth, very honest. I’m sort of really out there and full of authority, big gestures

Margot McLaughlin, volunteer for Clowns Without Borders

She added: “I think of Scottish people as being really hearty, down-to-earth, very honest. I’m sort of really out there and full of authority, big gestures.

“If you’re making your partner suffer, with a bang or a telling off, the kids love it.

“They are very surprised and astonished - they’re not used to seeing that, like Scottish kids at the Pantomime.

“A lot of kids have probably never seen a show in their life. It can be about a third of the way through the show they start to laugh.”

“You have to be careful what you do because some of them are scared. They’ve never seen a white person in their life, and there you are running about jumping and laughing. Some of them are just rooted to the spot.“

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“In a show this year I sang the Skye Boat song. My Scottish culture is still there, my humour. I’ve got a fairly good singing voice.

“Other shows I’ve done, I’ve dressed up as Dennis the Menace. And I was a great fan of the Broons as a child. Humour is humour.”

Margot was born in Scotstoun west, Glasgow but moved to Grangemouth at the age of five. Her dad, William, a former service engineer at the refinery, and mum Anne, still live there.

Margot, who studied theatre, now lives in France and has two children, William, 24, and Lily, 24.

She has volunteered with Clowns Without Borders at least once a year for the last seven years.

Margot confessed she was unsure about the trips at first. She said: “Sometimes you go - hang on, these people need food, they need clothing, they need medical care. Is this appropriate?

But she added: “You’re giving them something to dream about for a while.”