A sword swallower who has entertained thousands over the years at Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe may never be able to perform his signature trick again after a near-fatal accident in which it went “tragically wrong”.
Daredevil Gareth Williams, known in the street performing community as The Mighty Gareth, has been performing the act for 30 years and swallowed a sword more than 3,000 times.
But while practising the act ahead of this year’s event, he sustained “severe internal injuries” and was rushed to hospital having lost a “significant amount of blood”.
His friend, and fellow street-performing magician, Matthew Keys has launched a fundraiser to help him recover by relieving worry about immediate loss of income.
Writing on the GoFundMe page, he said: “I’m a street performer based in Edinburgh raising funds to help my friend and fellow performer The Mighty Gareth recover from a serious injury he suffered whilst performing his famous sword swallowing act.
“Gareth is a highly experienced festival, circus and street performer. He can be seen annually, MCing the big circus stage at Glastonbury Festival, at the Edinburgh Fringe Street Festival and performing on the streets of Winchester near his hometown.
“He has swallowed a sword over 3,000 times but last week it went tragically wrong and nearly killed him. He suffered an internal injury and severe internal bleeding.
“He spent a whole week in hospital and has now been released home but is looking at a slow recovery.
“Doctors have said he is no longer going to be able to perform his signature act, the sword swallow.
“I’m passing the digital hat to help my mate take the time to heal and recover without having to worry about the immediate loss of income.
“No doubt TMG will be treading the cobbles again soon. Thanks for supporting Gareth as he gets back on his feet.”
The accident has sent shockwaves through the street performance community, with other performers rallying around him to support him with his recovery.
On social media, mime artist and DJ Katie Mior wrote: “Wow. It’s been a terrible week in the street performing community.
“My very dear friend Gareth Williams had an accident while performing his 30+ year old sword swallowing routine. For those of you out there who think it isn’t real, I can assure you the danger is very real and it can happen to even the most seasoned pros.
“Thankfully, he is alive and on the road to recovery. But he will be out of commission for a while.
“Gareth is a wonderful person and a good friend. He helped me a lot when I was building my solo show. I will be doing a special stream to raise some cash for him.”