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Romany Gypsies in Leicestershire share their stories

Pictures provided by Romany Gypsies in Leicestershire
Jackie Boswell's mother and brother travelling on their wagon in 1940

Romany Gypsies living in Leicestershire have spoken out about the prejudice they feel they face and the struggle to keep their cultural traditions alive.

The lifestyle has been part of British society for over 500 years, but gypsies at a site near Hinckley said they are still fighting for the freedom to roam.

BBC Leicester's Julie Mayer visited the site, home to over 30 caravans, to uncover the truth behind Romany Gypsies in Leicestershire.

Fighting for acceptance
Pictures provided by Romany Gypsies in Leicestershire

Clarice and Steve Evon have lived at the site near Hinckley for four and a half years.

Clarice said "decency, respect and forgiveness" has held their close-knit community together.

"We like to be on our own because we feel save. It's inbuilt in us over hundreds of years," added Clarice.

"We are terrified of having crimes committed against us and that is why we stick together and segregate ourselves.

"Nine out of 10 think it's all bad about us. It's got worse since I was young - not better."

Fifty-seven-year-old Adelaide and sister Maria said they have both experienced racial discrimination.

"As soon as they find out what you are, they find an excuse to sack you, because I've experienced it," said Adelaide.

The old days
Jackie, 37, and Della, 21, on their honeymoon in 1975

Seventy-three-year-old Jackie Boswell proudly recalls his Romany roots.

"When I was about five or six at day school, dad was out getting a bit of scrap, mother would be out selling stuff door to door and telling a few fortunes.

"But we can't do that now," said Jackie.

Jackie feels the Romany way of life is slowly coming to halt.

"There's not much travelling done today, because it's very difficult - there's not many places to go," he added.

Jackie believes travelling is important for the younger generation.

Gypsies at school
Fifteen-year-old Olivia Ayres

Clarice said she was bullied at school because of who she is and feels gypsy children are still singled out today.

"My grandson came home with a bleeding nose - he was being picked on by another boy at school," said Clarice.

Adelaide Boswell said her granddaughter Nicole has also had a tough time a school because she is a gypsy.

Fifteen-year-old Olivia Ayres, who has travelled for most of her life, has made many friends during her journey.

However, she has not always had a pleasant time during her school years - according to Lisa, Olivia's mother.

Lisa said: "I was bullied at school, but I guess you just get used to it."

The gypsy wedding
Tracy Nedic with Emily at her second wedding

The Romany Gypsy community in Leicestershire said they are not happy about the way young gypsy girls' journey into marriage has been portrayed on television.

Bride-to-be Emily said a gypsy wife does not only "cook, clean and be controlled".

Sixteen-year-old Emily was planning to get married this September.

However her mother Tracy Nedic received some shocking news; Emily and her fiancé have eloped.

"What can you do? She's a married woman - it's not the way we wanted to do it," she said.

An upset Tracy added: "I'm happy for them but heart-broken at the same time."

Changing times
Steve and Clarice Evon

Steve, 64, and Clarice, 66, Evon come from different backgrounds. They reveal how this has impacted on their family over the years.

Clarice said it was difficult at first to marry the two traditions.

"It was harder for me because I had my own culture. And no way was I going to push that to one side to be what someone else was," said Clarice.

Steve said: "Some customs have watered-down a lot because of the young people - it's too hard for them.

However, he added that although appearance of Romany Gypsies might be different, "the culture will never change."

Romany Gypsies fight for acceptance
04 Mar 11 |  People & Places
A gypsy recalls his Romany roots
04 Mar 11 |  People & Places
Gypsies talk about life in school
04 Mar 11 |  People & Places
Gypsies talk about the wedding
04 Mar 11 |  People & Places
Gypsies talk about changing times
04 Mar 11 |  People & Places


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