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Well-Known Member
(Not written by me)

Showman Milly Ayers has become the first student from a travelling family to win a place studying Classics at Oxford, hailing the prestigious place as “a win for the entire fairground community.”

A showman from Chertsey has become only the third student from a travelling family to win a place at Oxford, having taught herself Classics after leaving school at 13.

Milly Ayers, who has worked on fairgrounds since she was three years old, will join St John’s College this September, and hailed the news as a victory for Showmen.

“My success is a win for the entire fairground community, and if any good comes out of that, I’ll be over the moon,” Ayers told the Oxford Mail.

“Perhaps while I am there I can show people that showmen and travellers in general aren’t these stupid Neanderthals like the stereotypes suggest.”

Ayers was raised as part of a traditional travelling Showmen family, and spent most of her childhood helping both her parents and grandparents operate rides, strikers and food stands.

Despite attending primary school, Ayers – who has autism and Asperger’s – found that the secondary school system was not “a good fit,” and left school in order to give herself an education beyond the state syllabus.

“It wasn’t a traditional education by any means, it was very flexible, but I suppose because I’d always had that love of education, of learning, I was able – with the help of my parents and everything – to find a way that suited me.”

Over the next three years, Ayers taught herself the GCSE syllabus by studying books, watching documentaries, and visiting museums and historical sites, and though she dismisses the grades she achieved as “pretty average,” her studies allowed her to pursue A-Levels in English, History and Classics at college.

With higher education a long-time goal, Ayers then looked to Oxford, and found support through mentoring organisation Zero Gravity – which paired Ayers with a Cambridge PhD student during the admissions process.

“I’m really excited to be able to go and learn there,” Ayers told Steph McGovern during an interview on Steph’s Packed Lunch. “I think it’s a good opportunity not just for me but for the entire Showmen community, to put our voices out there and show that we do exist, and we are capable.”

Milly Ayers made her national TV debut on Channel 4 recently explaining life on the road and her self-education journey to Oxford University.

“It’s a good opportunity to put our voices out there,” she explained to a live audience. “We’re a community, now recognised, and I want to try to educate people about who we are.”

Well, Milly is an intellect who decided to leave school at 13 due to autism and went on to pursue her ‘love for the ancient world’ by studying classics.

From the age of three, she has lived the fairgrounds, travelling the country opening up and down working the markets and fetes.

“We’re primarily businessmen,” she explained proudly. But education, and a switch to one of the world’s top five universities, has drawn the fairground teenager.

But it hasn’t all been comfortable. That journey, she explained, has included insults and signs daubed outside the yard her family live in.

But she’s going to work on that: “That’s what I want to change,” she confirmed.

And no doubting she will. An engaging character, Milly has attracted a wave of support from the travelling community and beyond. Her blog Antigine Journal includes a Showman’s Odyssey, and her Channel 4 interview drew widespread plaudits: “So inspiring and a fantastic representation of our community”; “You’re a credit”; “a wonderful advert for showmen and women.”

Ayers certainly rocks.

Source: Coinslot

A more detailed article about Milly Ayers has appeared in the Daily Express, according to PressReader, but I'm unable to access the article directly.
Fairground traveller Milly wins a place at Oxford
Are "showmen" over there the same thing as "carnies" over here...?
Hiya, my name is Milly; I'm the one in the article! Just saw this thread (I was looking for some of the articles for my Linked In) and I just thought I should comment to explain that yes, we are basically the UK/European equivalent of carnies in America. However, it is worth noting that we are also a type of Gypsy, and, as such, an official ethnic group. Though lots of us work on the fairgrounds (hence how we get the name Showmen), we are first and foremost an ethnic group and community; it's not just a job - not all Showmen work on the fairgrounds and not all who work on the fairgrounds are Showmen. I don't know how similar that is in the case of American carnies.
”Perhaps while I am there I can show people that showmen and travellers in general aren’t these stupid Neanderthals like the stereotypes suggest.”

Whoa, do showmen really have such a bad reputation in Britain? Most people in the U.S. consider them a curiosity, I’d say. Intriguing and even a little romantic. In fact, at this very moment I’m looking at two books on my table that are about the history of sideshows.
It’s more that the racism and discrimination is aimed at us more as travellers/gypsies than as Showmen/carnies (though there’s plenty of that too!).
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but that is very much the stereotype over here: backwards and tacky and dirty. And it’s simply not true.
Showman is one subtype of traveller (most Showmen reject the term Gypsy), and we travel purely for our work. Thus, if we left loads of rubbish or caused noise or were rude to people, we would lose the fair, which obviously we don’t want to do.
There’s also a stereotype that we don’t have a permanent address (wrong) and that we don’t pay taxes (I wish!).
Lots of people also think we get married young and treat women bad and dress awfully: the average age of marriage is late 20s; I can confirm that respect for women is an upmost value; and whilst our fashion may not be for everyone (it can be seen to be quite ‘cheugy’ or ‘Christian Girl Autumn’, it is certainly not what the Internet would have you believe.
Unfortunately, a few bad eggs (usually from other gypsy subgroups) ruin it for all of us, and people therefore think that this 1% is an excuse to justify the unfortunately very normalised (both commonly and institutionally) racism towards innocent men, women and children just trying to live, work and uphold their culture without bothering anyone else.

I hope this doesn’t sound too whiney, and I hope it helps explain just a little bit? If you have any more questions, feel free to ask :)
Are we discussing Romanichal Travellers ? As far as I know, Romani peoples exist on both sides of the pond, subject to similar types of discrimination. I know in the past, the news media has not been particularly kind to them collectively speaking. I suppose our cultures reflect a great number of people who do not understand or appreciate those with less-than-conventional occupations or lifestyles.

Sad...given sometimes such occupations may be an autistic person's best bet. I saved myself from disaster by becoming self-employed, making my own investments.

I still recall some people close to me saying, "Yes, but what do you plan to do for a real living?" :rolleyes:
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There are three main subgroups which come under the Gypsy Romani Traveller umbrella term. These are:
- Romani gypsy
- Irish traveller
- Travelling Showman

there is also another type known as boaters, who kind of float around the term, but are not really one of the major three.

Most of the discrimination in the UK is aimed towards Irish Travellers (if you Google the term, you are sure to find examples of this), but all GRT people are on the receiving end of this: either because people lump us all together and curse one group for another’s sins (speaking generally), or because they just want to hate us because we’re travellers and that’s enough for them!
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