Southport British Ring Convention
September 2007
Reported by Bob Hayden

We always said the 2007 Convention would be stupendous. Was it? The consensus of the 800 plus registrants attending it was. But a word used by many was different.

So what made Southport 2007 different from previous Conventions? Was it the enhanced comfort for the audience to view the International Close-Up Show and the majority of the lectures from the tiered seating in the Southport Arts Centre Theatre? Some however expressed concern for using both the Southport Theatre and the Arts Centre for events with an eight-minute walk between the two although many took advantage of the mini-coach that was available to convey Conventioneers, especially those with walking difficulties, forward and backwards between the two. Or was it the Late Night Sessions of cutting edge magic that played to packed enthusiastic audiences? Congratulations must go to Paul Stone for selecting such a talented team of stand up magicians. It is oblivious these sessions will feature in future Conventions. Or may be it was the two new innovations, the session of Street Magic that caused quite a stir with Conventioneers but bewildered the citizens of Southport or the ‘Ask the Experts’, a Question and Answer session that attracted a full room of devotees wanting to listen and learn from a panel of five distinguished celebrities. Or perhaps it was Paul’s introduction of a varied number of speciality acts into the stage shows. What made it different for you?

Paul Stone, the Ring’s Executive Producer must be praised for arranging such an excellent array of world class magical stars to perform and or lecture who together with the Convention organiser John Pye assisted by all the officers of the British Ring spent hundreds of hours of work spread over many months to devise a well balanced programme of events to suit all magical tastes. As a result every day of the Convention had highlights. With 16 Lectures/Workshops/Seminars, 6 Specialist Close-up workers. 36 Stage acts, 9 Late Night performers and 2 street Magicians to chose from, if you were to ask any individual who impressed them most you would get dozens of different answers. It all comes down to personal choice. Needless to say prolonged and sustained applause was the appreciation shown by the audience to every event and what is most unusual for a British audience standing ovations were frequent.

Throughout the week our President John Styles MBE and his lady Barbara were everywhere mingling with the members bringing a smile to everybody’s face. John’s wit made the Banquet into a most jovial affair, a memorable moment being when he sang the IBM Song arranged splendidly by the Ring’s Musical Director Dave Cass. His year of office came to an end on Sunday when he installed his successor Derek MacFaull by handing over the Chain of Office. Derek thanked John and Barbara for their dedication throughout their year and pledged to continue to uphold the prestige and dignity and to do his utmost to enhance the British Ring. At the Annual General Meeting Trevor Lewis was proposed and accepted as President Elect for the year 2008-2009. Eastbourne was approved as the venue for the 2008 Convention the dates being 24th-28th September and the Headquarters hotel being The Lansdowne.

The results of the competitions are reported on another page. In the Close-up Competition Steve Dela was the winner of the Zina Bennett Trophy giving a varied, entertaining and skilful performance at the table. For exhibiting a high level of skill with playing cards Steve also hung on to the Rovi Cup for another outstanding entertaining card effect. Will Steve try to emulate Sir Steve Redgrave and try to keep it for a third time next year? You will have to be at Eastbourne to find out! In the Stage Competition the winners were High Jinx a young brother and sister illusion act. It was an illusion act with a difference portraying sibling rivalry with hilarious results. Previously they have taken many prizes and have been winners of competitions at local level. Now by winning the British Ring Shield the future for this duo in the world of magic looks bright. The Craig Trophy awarded to the Dealer presenting the most attractive display once again went to Five of Hearts Magic Productions.

One show that deserves mention that each year is attracting a larger audience is the ‘Stars of Tomorrow’. Coming as it does just before the close of the Convention when many already thinking of heading for home, it is gratifying to see that so many stay and give their encouragement to the magicians of tomorrow. This year Jack Gleadow from Hull, a 12 year old who had the confidence and showmanship of many a seasoned performer introduced it. Watch out for his name in the coming years. Appearing were Patricia The Princess of Magic from Glasgow, Steven Bridges from Newcastle upon Tyne and Mandy Fletcher also from Glasgow. All performed creditable acts with poise and skill. With such dedication to the art and with such talent, the future of magic is in safe hands. Cynthia Neptune who compiled the show must be very proud of her Young Stars of Tomorrow. Mandy is the third generation of Fletchers who have performed at a British ring Convention. She is the daughter of Moria Fletcher and granddaughter of Olive and the late Duncan Fletcher. Not only that but the show was stage managed by her brother Alistair Fletcher allowing the Ring’s Stage Director Neil Roberts to stand back and admire his handling of the show. Well done to all of them!

13 eager youngsters must all have benefited from the advice given to them by David Williamson and Joanie Spina when they attended the Junior Workshop, organised by Mandy Davis.

Plans are already well advanced for next year’s Eastbourne 2008 and Registrations are now being taken. If you book early you can enjoy the following benefits. The first hundred to register will not only be given the best seats at the Gala Show but will also receive a Souvenir DVD featuring all the highlights of another fabulous Convention – absolutely free!

Just look for starters at the terrific line-up of talent appearing: Kalin and Jinger, headline Stars of the Magic Underground in Reno appearing for the first time at an IBM British Ring Convention, our own Geoffrey Durham, Guy Hollingworth Nicholas Einhorn and Richard McDougall, Oscar Munoz, Michael Finney, Nick Lewin, Gene Anderson, Bill Herz, Tony Chapek, Raymond Crowe, Levent, Claudius Specht, Juan Tamariz and the return of Jeff Hobson. It’s going to be another stupendous Convention!!!!

So do you want a best Gala Show seat and a freebie? Be in the first hundred by Registering on line by going to the Payment On Line page on the website or getting in touch with Neville Johnson on 01202 873234 or by email


© Bob Hayden, September 2007