Welfare State International, the local arts group which had a base in Barrow, was putting on circus workshops in its Storey Square headquarters in August 1989.

For anyone aged 14 and over there would be the opportunity to learn clowning, red nose and all, juggling, balancing and building human pyramids of the acrobatic kind.

People would also be able to walk tall with a few lessons on the art of stilt walking.

The workshops would be under the tuition of Rachel Ashton, Welfare State's new performance director.

Rachel was a founder member of Trickster Productions whose collaboration with the Cumbria Youth Theatre led to the hugely successful Alice, which played to highly appreciative audiences throughout the county in 1988.

Barrow audiences were likely to remember the colourful costumes and amazing masks from the Alice production when it came to Barrow Sixth Form College.

Rachel had worked in professional theatre for ten years and said she was looking forward to uncovering a wealth of talent in Barrow.

She hoped the workshops would attract people who wanted to learn new skills or improve existing ones.

"I am more interested in energy and enthusiasm than the ability to do a back flip," she said.

"The important thing to stress is that it's not just for children, it's for adults as well. The main thing is that people learn some skills.

"It's a kind of DIY circus. There'll be basic juggling, slapstick, chair routines, clowning, body balancing, basic acrobatics and I would imagine that we'll get some costumes from somewhere," she said.

In 1997 Welfare State International was planning to refurbish the old schoolhouse on the Ellers at Ulverston as a new headquarters.

WSI had been assisted by English Partnership to help match the funds needed to win a lottery grant. The refurbishment was estimated at £750,000, of which Welfare State International had to raise £185,000. English Partnership had stepped in to help with raising the cash and the grant had been approved.