BIBLE HILL – Graham Campbell has an alter ego.
By day he works part-time at a car rental company and is a father and a grandfather. But every now and again he becomes Beeper, a clown that brings happiness to people he meets.
“Once you put makeup on your face and your uniform on, you actually become the character,” Campbell said Wednesday.
His fascination with clowns started as a six-year-old boy growing up in Halifax and watching the famous Red Skelton perform on TV.
“Anybody that came to my birthday party had to come (in costume),” Campbell recalled.
During the past 60 years it has evolved into doing birthday parties, guest appearances at seniors’ homes and parades.
“Now I have a calling,” Campbell said. “When I go in parades, especially around Truro, (people say), ‘Oh here comes Beeper.’”
He makes objects out of balloons, does magic tricks and generally loves making people happy.
“Humour goes a long way as opposed to sadness,” Campbell said, noting a sense of satisfaction when seeing faces light up during his performances.
“You can’t buy a smile like that. It’s worth a lot of money. You can’t put a dollar value on a smile,” he said.
The smiles and hugs come from the children and adults, and tells him his work is appreciated and we’re all kids at heart.
But it is more than just putting on a costume and doing silly things for a laugh. It takes lots of practice to perfect and learn the skills of becoming a clown.
“For a long while I was self-taught,” he said.
But for the past three years, Campbell and others from Nova Scotia have been travelling to Plymouth, Mass. for a clown school organized by the Northeast Shrine Association. The two-and-half-day event is a lot of fun, particularly when you consider 220 clowns all in one hotel.
“There’s not a dull moment,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s laughter from the time you start until the time you get out of there.”
Campbell has been with the Central Shrine Club for 16 years, has been a member of the Masonic Order for 44 years and is a member of First United Church. He also helps with the annual canvassing for the heart and stroke foundation and the cancer society.
Over the years he has helped coach little league baseball, was involved with Scouts and the Red Cross.
“I have a difficulty saying no when people call,” Campbell says, noting he enjoys helping others. “I do my part when I can.”
For his efforts in the community, Campbell has been named Bible Hill’s volunteer of the year. He will be attending the provincial recognition ceremony in Halifax on April 4.
“It’s quite an honour,” he said proudly.
Earl McKenna lives on the same street and has been involved with some of the same organizations as Campbell.
“He plays a very vital part in the lodge,” McKenna said. “He’s a leader, he’s enthusiastic and energetic.”