Fay Presto’s contribution to magic has been recognised with her winning the top UK honour at this year’s annual awards ceremony at The Magic Circle. Fay won the Maskelyne Award, for services to British magic. Outgoing president Megan Swann who presented the trophy highlighted how Fay had helped many of today’s professionals get started, how she had shared her immense knowledge with others, and how she had popularised an entire section of the industry – close-up in restaurants – from which many magicians make their living today.
Megan said: “She was also one of the first women to join The Magic Circle, and was the person who gave me the idea to run for my first officer role here at TMC.”
Fay’s award was one of the highlights of a special evening at The Magic Circle’s headquarters in London on Thursday (August 31) – and Fay thought she was just there to do close-up in the club room before the awards ceremony! Fay, famous for her bottle through table routine amongst others, joins a roll-call of top UK magicians who have been previous recipients including David Nixon, Paul Daniels, Wayne Dobson and Andy Nyman,
The Carlton Award for outstanding comedy in magic went to Neal Austin. Megan said that Neal, who spends a lot of time performing on cruise ships, had had a long and successful career, putting a lot of thought and dedication into his act, creating something original, very funny and unique.
The Devant Award for services to international magic, went to Cyril Takayama, an American with Japanese and Moroccan parents. Megan described him a truly international performer who has captivated millions worldwide with his incredible sleight of hand, illusions, and unique mix of traditional magic with cutting-edge technology.
One of the biggest cheers of the night was for the winners of the Chapender Award for services to the community using magic. Spread a Smile brings joy and laughter to seriously ill children and their families thorough hospital visits, outings and events. Their team of performers include several members of The Magic Circle including Lance Corporal Richard Jones who is one of their Ambassadors. Megan said:”For their use of magic to make a real and positive difference to young lives at the most challenging of times, I am proud to present this year’s Martin Chapender award to Spread a Smile.” Co-founders Vanessa Crocker and Josephine Legal were among those to accept the award.
The JN Maskelyne prize for noteworthy contributions to the art or literature of magic went to the 90-year-old American author William Rauscher. William has written on numerous magical topics and researched what have become definitive biographies of major magicians, including John Calvert, Servais le Roy and The Great Raymond, as well as broader subjects such as spiritualism and magic in the time of the Second World War. Megan picked out his 2015 book, Death Camp Magicians, the story of two Holocaust survivors as being expertly researched and written.
One of the stalwarts of The Magic Circle, Chris Wood, was awarded a Silver Wand for outstanding contributions to the society. Megan said that Chris had gone above and beyond in his service – producer of the close-up shows, the education days, and the half-term Monday morning shows. He had also stepped in to become Director of Public Events playing a key role in ensuring magic for the public could return as the lockdowns began to lift. Chris had also served as a member of Council, on the board of the Foundation, had taught at The Young Magician’s Club, had led hands on sessions – and was still a very welcoming and welcome regular on Monday night club nights, ever eager to perform his magic and pass on his skill.
Charlie Burgess was the winner of the Cecil Lyle award for the best item published in The Magic Circular, the society”s monthly magazine. In a 3,700 word piece for the February issue Charlie recreated the night in 1975 that the future King Charles became a member and also told the remarkable story of the member who taught the then Prince Charles the cups and ball routine.
The audience in the theatre were also treated to a show. The performers included Megan, with her Black Swan routine, Neal Austin, Arabella Crawford, the award winning member of The Young Magicians Club, and the mentalist duo TranscendenT. The MC was Ada Campe.
The awards ceremony ended with one surprise announcement – a Silver Wand for Megan. Vice-president Katherine Rhodes described Megan as a “unifying force” for the society. She had served The Magic Circle I’m many roles since joining The Young Magicians Club many years ago.