'Yarmouth has much to be optimistic about' - Jack Jay

Jack Jay with Pirates

Jack Jay on stage with the cast of Pirates Live at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus. - Credit: Streetview Marketing

Jack Jay is a man who is fast becoming the face of Great Yarmouth.

The 34-year-old is the producer, director and ringmaster for the Hippodrome Circus, the co-project director of The Empire entertainment venue and is the president of Great Yarmouth Football Club.

We had a chat with him about his roles in the town and where he sees it going.

Visit Great Yarmouth launch their golden tcket competition with local business partners at The Hippo

Jack Jay and Johnny Mac preparing for a "vibrant" summer at the Hippodrome. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

What are your hopes for the future of Great Yarmouth Football Club?

It's full of wonderful and dedicated people who want to keep its rich tradition alive. The most important thing to me is to keep this club at the heart of our community and grow its links with the town's people, businesses and neighbourhoods as much as possible.

Wellesley football ground in Great Yarmouth, home to what is thought to be the oldest wooden stand i

The home of Great Yarmouth Football Club, the Wellesley Recreation Ground. - Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

How long did it take for The Empire to be brought back to prominence?

It's crazy to think it had been over 10 years since The Empire was last open. There had been lots of factors contributing to that, including the changing nightlife scene and trends.

We explored different potential projects and uses. What was most important for us was that when it reopened it was there to stay.

It's been so encouraging that people have embraced our vision of a fun venue filled with live music, great food and drink.

The Empire on Great Yarmouth's seafront.

The Empire reopened to much fanfare in July 2021. - Credit: The Empire

How has the past year been for The Empire?

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It's been fantastic. There's been lots to learn.

Immersing ourselves in two completely new worlds of both local street food and live music has been a real whirlwind, but a total blast.

It's been incredible to see just how much amazing talent there is right on our doorstep, from singers, musicians, stand up comics to talented chefs.

What would you like The Empire to be doing in the future?

I really hope The Empire can continue to grow and become a flagship venue for the town's growing music scene.

I'm also excited to see how we can help cultivate the next generation of performers with the help of Freshly Greated - a brilliant local organisation.

Natacha Lacey, manager, and Jack Jay, company director, in the recently opened Cafe 1903 at Great Ya

Natacha Lacey, manager, and Jack Jay, company director, in the recently opened Cafe 1903 at Great Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus. - Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant

When did you first perform at the Hippodrome?

My first unofficial performance was as a kid pre-show highlighting the spinning plates people could buy. I was probably about nine or 10. We used to get chased out as part of the scene. It was great fun.

Now, I get to perform every day with some of the best circus performers from across the globe, it's truly unreal.

And I feel this summer might be our most talented group yet, they are out of this world.

Jack Jay with Johnny Mac and the cast from Hippodrome's 2022 summer season.

Jack Jay (centre-back) and the cast from the Hippodrome's summer 2022 season appeared alongside ITV presenters Kate Lawler and Ovie Soko in July. - Credit: TMS Media

Any funny stories to share from your time at Hippodrome, GYFC or The Empire?

Across the years, there have been some amazing memories. Getting to meet so many talented people from across the world who come together at the Hippodrome has always been a treat.

The thing I will never forget, or live down, is causing the water spectacular to be out of action for a day after I accidentally kicked a football into the top of our water tank.

When it came time for the water show, the valve was released as usual but no water came out. The football had been sucked down and lodged.

As I hadn't told anyone, nobody was to know. My brother had to dive in and cut the ball out.

Needless to say there are now signs up saying 'NO BALL GAMES WHATSOEVER IN THIS AREA'.

Sorry kids of today, that's on me.

What are your thoughts on the future of Great Yarmouth?

I am optimistic. We've got so much to be excited about and more importantly, we've always had so much to be proud of.

The appreciation for what the town has to offer is growing more than ever before.

Jack Jay with Johnny Mac and the cast from Hippodrome's 2022 summer season.

Jack Jay (centre) with Johnny Mac and the cast from Hippodrome's 2022 summer season. - Credit: TMS Media

What's next for Jack?

We have a really busy year ahead, the Hippodrome summer season is currently running daily until September 18.

Our new hub, Cafe 1903, is also open daily at the Hippodrome site and throughout the summer The Empire has nightly live music as well as events every weekend through the year.

We are working hard to push the quality and spectacle of our shows, so the work on that never stops.