The British Ring President’s Dinner

Saturday 21st April 2012
Hilton Hotel, Stansted

Reported by Michael Bailey

Over 140 magicians and laypeople packed the function room of the Hilton Hotel, Stansted, for the dinner organised and hosted by British Ring President Brian Miller and his wife Audrey. The secret of a good dinner is to choose the best venue, select delicious food, find good speakers, and book a great cabaret. And that’s exactly what Brian and Audrey did - and then they added the little extra touches that made the evening so special. There were gifts for everyone, attractive table decorations, wonderful hand-crafted menus by Alan & Barbara Astra, a not-too-demanding quiz, roving entertainment from origami and silhouette experts Steve and Megumi Biddle, and first rate music from the Peter Werth Trio.

The speeches were all exactly the right length with Lord John MacGregor proposing the toast to The British Ring and its President with good humour and some serious points about magic’s future. Brian Miller followed, proud to be President for the second time, and mentioning that there were no less than 11 past British Ring presidents at the dinner (“I didn’t know so many were still alive…”). IBM International President Vanni Pulé, who with his wife Mary-Anne had travelled especially from Malta to be present, responded in perfect English and half-a-dozen other languages. Vanni is not only a linguist but a fine artist, and he presented Brian with an oil painting of a dove being produced complete with a lifelike picture of Brian’s face caught in a spotlight.

Then it was cabaret time, although the line-up of acts made this more of a mini-gala show. Great magic from Magic Circle double winner Peter Wardell who showed a puzzling jumbo card co-incidence trick before his signature Cups and Balls routine performed as only Peter can. Steve Hewlett demonstrated why he is a rising star ventriloquist with his expert technique and funny patter that came from the mouths of his many quirky characters. The remarkable Antje Pode followed with her amazing foot-juggling of suitcases and balls, often with all of them in the air at the same time. The outrageously funny Mel Mellers was on top form and convulsed everyone with his hilarious audience put-downs.

The final act was Andrew Van Buren and Company, who showed not just illusions but unicycling, juggling and a sensational plate spinning routine. Andrew finished with enormous silk, goldfish bowls and bouquet productions, leaving the stage overflowing with colour and leaving the audience amazed at the variety of his skills. The excellent compčre was John Styles who showed his years of professionalism with each introduction that was funny, apt, and just the right length. John was in fine voice, too, leading the audience in a number of well known choruses during the evening.

Barry Nowland and Michael Carr did a great job supporting each act technically, and their stage set and lighting meant this remarkable show was seen clearly by the entire audience.

This event was advertised as a ‘Gala Dinner and Star Cabaret’ and it lived up to this billing in every way. It was a most enjoyable evening, packed with great magic and good company, where everything went like clockwork. This was a Presidential dinner to remember.


© Michael Bailey, April 2012