A pensioner who dresses as a clown for charity has branded the pranksters behind the killer clown craze a “disgrace” and called for them to be “locked up”.
Tommy Armstrong, 75, is a loved local figure in his hometown and has dressed up as a clown for more than 30 years.
The clown, who has raised nearly £200,000 for charity takes part in marathons across the UK, and is often seen beside a fundraising stand.
But last week social media users recorded a video of him and warned that people should beware of the “scary clown” and “stay safe”.
Tommy, from Greenock, Inverclyde, said he had become of victim of the killer clown craze which involves people dress up as horror movie-style clowns to frighten people.
And the usually “happy” clown has now called for an end to the bizarre craze and have killer clowns locked up.
The former taxi boss who calls himself ‘Tommy the Clown’ said: “It is a disgrace that there are people taking part in this killer clown craze.
“I haven’t seen any myself but people I speak to have been telling me about it.
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“These guys that do this are idiots. The police should lock them up, or if they’re kids, then send a strong warning to their parents.
“People can be very scared of clowns due to the look of their faces. I try and use a happy face but I realise people might not like looking at me either.
“If I have a big sign with me and I see someone who is obviously uncomfortable with the way I look, I’ll put the sign in front of my face so that they don’t get frightened.
“I have never had any bother with people saying I’m terrifying as everyone knows who I am, and they actually come over and talk to me.
“I would like to offer to go into local schools to talk to students about just how dangerous this craze is.
“As I said, people can be terrified of clowns, and my fear is that someone is going to end up having a heart attack because of one of these morons.”
Tommy, who has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, hands out cuddly toys and lollipops from the stand to children and their parents.
He is a much-loved local figure in Greenock and has been seen in his clown costume since first dressing up for the Inverclyde marathon in 1984.
He said: “I usually have a wee stand in the town centre and I give away cuddly toys and lollipops to the kids and their parents.
“Everyone around here knows who I am and what I do. I even give lollipops to the police if they are on their breaks.
“I’m the only guy in Greenock who can give away lollipops to people without getting into bother.”
The pensioner uses his stand as a way of raising money for Cancer Research and charities that help disabled children.
But he stresses that people don’t have to donate money at the stand if they don’t want to.
Tommy said: “It’s part of my charity fundraising. I don’t ask people for money when they are walking past, it’s up to them if they want to donate.
“I’m more than happy to give people things from the stand and if they choose to donate, even if it is just two pence, I’m happy with that.
“I will never look at the amount of money someone donates, put it that way.”
Tommy usually takes part in around 50 runs all over the UK every year for charity and has attracted the attention of athletes like former Olympian Denise Lewis.
He added: “I do loads of runs and marathons while dressed up in my clown costume in aid of charity.
“I did the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow at the start of the month like this.
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“Unfortunately though, I haven’t been able to do as many as I’d like to this year as I need to have a hernia removed.
“Next year, I’m hoping to get right back into it and do more runs like the marathon in Manchester and the Great North Run.
“Usually, I do around 50 or 60 runs a year.”
Tommy admits his growing up in an orphanage inspired him to help disabled children, and the loss of his mother to cancer further inspired his charitable cause.
Dressing up as a clown is just a means of entertaining people while he is raising money.
He said: “I’ve managed to raise more than £190,000 over the years for Cancer Research and charities that help disabled kids.
“I enjoy raising money for people and dressing up as a clown. I try to entertain people and bring more attention to my fundraising.”
In a statement, Supt David Duncan, from Police Scotland, said: “We have had a few sporadic reports of individuals dressed as clowns in some areas in Scotland.
“It is assessed that there is a current trend of similar incidents on social media, many of which have been confirmed as hoaxes and emanate from overseas.
“The reports which have been made to local police officers are being investigated and do not specifically involve threats or violence.
“However, any person seeking to cause distress and potential harm to anyone should be aware that police will take action.
“If anyone has any concerns they should report the matter to police.”