Up, Up and Away!
The Order of the Magi Annual Dinner and Cabaret
19th March, 2011
Reported by Geoffrey Newton - Toastmaster
Photography by Mike Sharples - Secretary

To the tones of “Up, Up and Away in my beautiful balloon” President Alan Snaggers Russell paraded into the main hall of The Irish World Heritage Centre (IWHC) with his lady Anne and Guests of Honour, IBM British Ring President Keith Cooper and his lady Pam to join the 90 diners that had assembled for this occasion. Each table had a hot air balloon centre piece with a flower filled basket.

After a short speech of welcome from our President and grace conducted by the Secretary it was time to eat. The four course meal provided by the IWHC is always well received which is why so many of our guests are such regulars.

The speeches had been reduced in number this year, as is now seemingly the case with other societies. This made, the Toast to The Order of The Magi from President Keith receive greater attention. It was sincere, well thought out and concluded with a gift of some framed Chung Ling Soo miniature posters for Alan.

The presentation of floral displays to our highly supportive lady Honorary Members was carried out by young Bella (daughter of Past President Barrie Horridge) and I think she enjoyed every minute of it.

A Virgin balloon flight voucher for two people sold by auction for £200 and the society funds were swelled by the table centre and general raffles. Thanks must go to Simon Hobday and his team for swiftly distributing the prizes.

During the short break President Alan used his balloon modelling skills to make as many models as time would allow for the guests.

It was now time for cabaret. This year our own Nick Barnes took on the role. I have known him for a number of years and was delighted to see how well his magical skills, presentation and comedic delivery have become so timed to perfection. Just look out for this name as he is certainly going places. It was just per chance that our dinner coincided with his son Thomas’s 8th Birthday so Snaggers brought on a cake and we all sang Happy Birthday as he blew the candles out. He was clearly thrilled by an extra birthday present, a copy of the DVD entitled “The Van Buren Story” which Andrew Van Buren had kindly given him.

Up first for entertainment was Bruce Thompson with his One Man Band, returning to The Magi after a few years. He is a good all round entertainer with plenty of audience participation both up on stage and with ‘community’ singing. Certainly an excellent start for what was to follow.

This was in the hands of Andrew Van Buren and Company. He has been appearing in the area over the past few months and I have written about him recently. I will therefore keep this report short although it turned out to be a show in itself! There was the botania to girl, Sword Suspension –where all the swords are removed! Next came tambourine production of a silk streamer and then a stack of water filled goldfish bowls appeared out if this! He then went on to variety with unicycle, juggling clubs and hoops. Next came plate spinning which he has so much made his own. There were 15 plates on the go at once and he juggled at the same time. The finale was flower and umbrella productions from a shown empty tube that filled the stage with a wealth of colour.

The society was delighted to have, on this occasion the pleasure of the company of Fred and Connie (Andrew’s parents) the original Van Buren and Greta.

There was just an hour left to bop the night away to bring the 2011 highly successful dinner to a close.

Finally I must record our thanks to Alan and Anne for all their hard work in putting this evening together.

Photo: The Presidential guests: Connie, Fred, Anne, Alan, Keith and Pam.


© Geoffrey Newton, March 2011




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