Clowns will take over a seaside town for the final time – after the main sponsors pulled out of the annual convention.

Bognor has hosted the biggest clown gathering in the country since 1985.

But just weeks before this year’s event, which takes |place this weekend, Butlins announced it would no longer be supporting the annual gathering.

Brighton and Hove clown Zaza – real name Matthew Inde – is one of the organisers.

He said: “We are concentrating on making this the best yet. We want to go out with a bang.

“We are still hopeful that we will find another venue and are committed to making sure the event continues for many years.”

The event was first held in 1985 and the seaside town soon became known as a Mecca for clowns. It was called off for ten years from 1993 but was given a second lease of life in 2003. The two-day event features special demonstrations, workshops and socials, and culminates in the clown parade.

Worthing clown Baz – real name Paul Burrell – attended the very first year. He said: “It’s a real shame because it used to be a fantastic event. It was a great opportunity to catch up with fellow clowns, and the people at Butlin’s were always very good to us. I even used to get a free holiday after the event.”

Zaza, who was brought up in Bognor, decided to pursue a career as a professional clown after going down to see the parade as a youngster.

He said: “I think it is a really important event for the town and I’m really sad it’s going. It’s because of the clown parade that I got into the industry.

“Now, as a professional clown, it’s a great opportunity to meet other clowns. We spend the whole year doing jobs all over the place so never really get to spend much time together.”

A Butlin’s spokesman said it decided to axe the event |following a “review of attractions”.

Organisers approached the town council for help but were told that they were unable to provide financial support.

The organising committee at the Clowns International event is now searching for a new venue. To help go to www.|