A CLOWN can claim to be truly national after completing performances in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland this year.

Ron Wood - alias Chuckles The Clown - has appeared in various guises around the Britain during the past few months, including a performance for the crowds waiting to greet the Queen during her jubilee tour of the Hebrides in May.

However, Ten Foot Tex is a new character for Spectacular Events, of Richmond, North Yorkshire, and will make his debut at events to mark American Independence Day in Coleraine, Northern Ireland today.

"The booking came through our agents but, as I understand it, the celebrations have been arranged by the Irish Tourist Board and the local council," said Mr Wood during rehearsals.

"They asked for something a little different so we thought we would offer them a cowboy on stilts. It seemed appropriate as the Giant's Causeway is only up the road from Coleraine.''

The celebrations also mark the unveiling of the Phoenix Peace Fountain - a gift from the US to the communities of Northern Ireland.

A ceremony in Coleraine's Anderson Park will be attended by people working in cross-community projects in the area as well as local council representatives and members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.