Nell Gifford, the co-founder of Giffords Circus, has died.

The 46-year-old had spent the last four years fighting breast cancer and in July said she had been told she had a year to live.

Oxford Mail:

Thousands of families in Oxfordshire over the years have enjoyed Giffords Circus performances at locations across the county, including the University Parks in Oxford, Stadhampton Green, Stonor, Barrington near Burford, and Blenheim Palace.

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The Gloucestershire-based circus said in a statement: "It is with broken hearts that we announce the death of Nell Gifford – the co-founder, driving force and the visionary behind Giffords Circus.

Oxford Mail:

"Her illness was well documented in the press, as she believed in transparency and openness.

"Nell, surrounded by family, both immediate and circus, left us on Sunday.

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"We know many tears will be falling as Nell touched so many hearts.

Oxford Mail:

"Her vision for Giffords Circus was to bring happiness, imagination and enliven people’s souls. Giffords Circus shall continue to do just that. While the world is a dimmer place today, Nell will continue to live through the Circus.

Oxford Mail:

"In 2020 we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Circus. Nell wanted it to be the showstopper and it will be just that. Next year’s production, The Hooley will celebrate the first 20 years, the next 20 years and Nell’s incredible life.

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"Nell built a circus to last. It is poised to grow and fulfill Nell’s plans for the future.

Oxford Mail:

"Nell was a creative genius, a daughter, step-daughter, sister, friend, leader and mother.

"She leaves behind the next generation – her twins Cecil and Red – who are both part of the Giffords Circus DNA.

Oxford Mail:

"We love her. May she rest in peace."