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22 August 2012

Celebrating 20 years - The Presidential Year

After being in any business for twenty years you're bound to be left with some special moments and in this blog post I'm going to be concentrating on a very special time in my life. 

President BMSTen years ago - 2002 - I received the great honour of being made the president of the British Magical Society - one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world, and it really was a year I will never forget.

I became one of the youngest ever presidents in the society's history and this alone created a lot of publicity for me and the club. Newspaper and radio interviews seemed to be a regular occurrence in those first few weeks and I was even featured on BBC Midlands Today.

It was a busy year all round because as president you have to organise a whole years worth of events, and as the society meets weekly, that's a lot of organising. On top of this were the many invites from other clubs for me, as president, to attend and represent the BMS at their dinners and events... busy, busy busy! I don't how I fitted my own job in.

For me one of the most important things was put together as good-a-line-up of lectures and events as possible and I was very lucky in somehow managing to engage some of the biggest names in magic to take part and lecture for me during my year as president.

Steve Dacri was on tour, over from America, and I was lucky enough to secure his services for the opening night of my presidential year - and I couldn't have wished for a better opening. He was great guy and a gentleman, we kept in touch - via facebook - and I was very sad when the magic world lost Steve to colon cancer recently; he is sadly missed.

Michael Vincent - seen recently on Penn & Teller: Fool us - one of the worlds great card experts, amazed us with his incredible finger flinging dexterity. He truly is a master of his craft and a gentleman.

Fay Presto was superb as she performed her session exactly as it would be in the real world: at a table set for ten guests and ready for her to perform her close-up miracles on the specially invited lay audience.. It was a great night and a fitting event and lecture for 'The Goodliffe Memorial Night'.
With Wayne Dobson
Andy with Wayne Dobson

Wayne Dobsondespite his debilitating illness, - MS -  was in sparkling form and keep us all thoroughly entertained with his brilliant comedy magic. I know he fooled a lot of us, including me. It was great to meet Wayne and his lovely wife, Marianne, and I really appreciate the time and trouble they both took to make this lecture happen for me.

John Archer, the man who 'fooled Penn and Teller', came along and presented a great lecture on the art of comedy, and if you've ever seen John you'll know there's no one better qualified to do it.

With Ali Bongo
Andy with Ali Bongo
The late, great Ali Bongo is one of the most talented and creative magicians around. He was magical adviser on both Paul Daniels and David Nixon's Magic shows, and apparently the inspiration behind the smash hit BBC series, Jonathan Creek. So, you can see why I wanted this legend of a man to be include in my year... but would he do it?When I spoke to him about coming along I was surprised at how eager he was; he agreed immediately. And, it's a foregone conclusion that when you book Ali Bongo you get a great night - he did us proud. Ali may now be gone but he will never be forgotten.

Also in that year I managed to persuade Peter Nardi, the man behind The Alakazam Magic Company, to give a lecture / dealer dem. Back then Alakazam was a small concern, compared to the international magic supplier it has since become, and Peter didn't really want to do the gig - "I don't do Lectures" he told me. But somehow, I persuaded him and on the 14th May 2002, he supplied us with a superb night of entertainment - one of the best and well received dealer demonstrations the BMS has ever had..

With David Beglas
Andy & Deb with David & Ruth Berglas.
The highlight of the presidential year is the Annual Dinner and Dance and it is also one of the biggest magical dinners in the country. I was lucky enough to have David Berglas, who was presenting his award, and who was the then president of The Magic Circle, sitting to my right and on my left was the worthy recipient of his award, Geoffrey Durham - aka - The Great Suprendo, who was at that time a regular face in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4's Countdown. Both David and Geoffrey were very approachable guys and we talked a lot during the meal.

Even though everything was running smoothly, I have to admit to being racked with nerves; I still had my presidential speech to deliver, and it wasn't until  after this  that I had my first alcoholic drink of the evening - I certainly needed one by then.

Andy, Deb and Geoffrey Durham.
The Cabaret, that followed the meal, was superb and featured Guy Barrett performing his amazing illusions show, Loki with his wonderful silent manipulation act, and comedy juggler Michael Preace had us all in fits of laughter; I'll never know how anyone can juggle and tell jokes like he does - Incredible.

The evening, and the year, in fact,  went without a hitch but I have to say that I couldn't of done without the help and support of the Society's council and members including Mike Gancia, Liz Warlock, Derek Robins and, Mr and Mrs BMS themselves, (As they are affectionately known) John Jeremy and Pam Buckley.

It was, as I have said, a fantastic experience and a year the like of which I don't expect I will see again... unless, of course, they decide to ask me to be President for a second term - well, it could happen - who knows?

Below is one of the many newspaper articles that were written at the time, this particular one was taken from the Express and Star.



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