The Honorary President of the Association des Auvergnats de Grande-Bretagne as well as the Federation of French Associations in Great Britain, Antoinette Chambeyron is an emblematic figure of the French community in London.
Daughter of Anne Dunne, British artist born in Liverpool, and Georges Chambeyron, member of the famous juggling troupe “The Mongadors”, Antoinette could not have known an ordinary fate. Her childhood was shared between the nuns in Aurillac and her family dedicated to the entertainment world. Outside of school, it is ballet with her aunt, modern dance with her mother and juggling with her father that she devotes all her time.
During the Second World War, when World War II broke out. Her parents set up their own resistance movement from their home in Aurillac, France to combat the occupying German forces. The couple would eventually be honoured by both the French and British governments for their varied efforts for the Allies. Antoinette remembers everything. ” At that time, Parisian theatres were full of German soldiers and my parents refused to entertain them”, says the latter. The Chambeyron family then retired to their house in Cantal. While Anne gave English lessons, prohibited under the occupation, to the children of Aurillac in secret or helped British soldiers to pass the Spanish border, A few years later, the Chambeyron couple received the Medal of Recognition for helping prisoners of war as ‘expression of gratitude from the Royal Air Force. Antoinette Chambeyron received The Legion of Honour it is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits
From the age of 17, the war finally over, the seasoned juggler, the only one who knew how to make five clubs flutter at the same time, began to rotate throughout Europe. ” I was lucky to belong to a big entertainment family. The best juggling troupe in Europe and then in America “, With the Mongadors, Antoinette makes the discovery of the biggest theatres. ” London was the top at the time. Even the Americans wanted to come and play there.”, she says. After the death of her husband in 1959, Antoinette’s mother decided to settle in London and leaves her daughter to continue the show alone. Tired of constantly traveling and training, she also sets her bags in the British capital. She becomes a journalist for the BBC. ” I went from one top to another. From entertainment to journalism without having had to look for either one or the other “.