Magician conjures up best trick accolade

James Ward is presented with the prestigious Cecil Lyle Award for Magical Innovation.
James Ward is presented with the prestigious Cecil Lyle Award for Magical Innovation.
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A top magician from the Ripon area has just scooped a major national award in recognition of his craft – and one trick in particular.

West Tanfield magician James Ward had cause to celebrate after landing the prestigious Cecil Lyle Award for Magical Innovation.

The trophy is awarded annually by the world-famous Magic Circle for what is judged to be the best trick published in its members’ magazine, The Magic Circular.

James, who is a comedy magician and children’s entertainer, won with a mind-reading routine involving the use of any borrowed banknote.

Cecil Lyle himself was one of the country’s last great touring illusionists.

Billed as ‘The Greatest Living Exponent of Magic,’ he appeared at Harrogate’s Royal Hall in September 1946.

James, who has originated almost a hundred magic tricks over the years, co-authored books on magic, and even performed on TV and radio, said the award was a huge, but wonderful surprise.

He said: “Some of the biggest names in British magic have won this award, including John Archer (famous for fooling Penn and Teller in their hit TV series, which landed him a spot in their Las Vegas show).

“I never expected to follow in their footsteps.”

Due to a recent accident, in which he broke his shoulder and came close to losing the sight in one eye, James very nearly missed the awards ceremony, which was held at the Magic Circle headquarters in London.

He told the Gazette that his prize was “the best medicine I could have hoped for” and, though still recovering, he travelled down to London on October 10 for the spectacular gala show which featured other award-winners such as TV’s Paul Zenon and Jamie Raven, this year’s Britain’s Got Talent runner-up.

James, currently secretary of the Harrogate Society of Magicians, said: “If anyone is interested in joining the society (beginners are always welcome), they can either contact me on 01677 470363, or visit the society’s website: www.harrogatesocietyofmagicians.com.”

Alternatively, James can be emailed via his own website, www.jamesward.co.uk.