Sussex magicians celebrate club's 40th birthday with members from Burgess Hill, Crawley, Horsham, Worthing, Brighton and Heathfield

A group of Sussex magicians are celebrating their club’s 40th birthday.

The South Downs Magicians meet monthly at Handcross Parish Hall and their anniversary evening is on Wednesday, August 3 (8pm).

President Jonathan Cann, 66, from Burgess Hill, said the club has come a long way since it was formed by Horsham's Tony Hoare and Shaun O'Donoghue in 1982.

He said: "From early beginnings with just five members who met in a room in a pub, we have grown over the years to become one of the most popular and lively groups for conjurers in the south-east.”

The club now hosts lectures, competitions and shows for the public.

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"We like muggles, as we call them, to come in,” said Jonathan, adding that magicians are ‘the worst audience’ to perform illusions for.

Members include professionals, semi-professionals and enthusiasts from Crawley, Horsham, Worthing, Brighton, Heathfield and Eastbourne.

The South Downs Magicians' president Jonathan Cann from Burgess Hill

They often get together for 50:50 charity shows, splitting the money between the magic club and organisations like schools and charities.

Jonathan said he particularly enjoys the lectures because they teach different angles on routines and new techniques.

“The biggest part of the club is sharing and helping each other,” he said.

Jonathan has been president of The South Downs Magicians for a total of 11 non-consecutive years.

The South Downs Magicians' president Jonathan Cann from Burgess Hill

He is a full-time entertainer, performing at parties, weddings, Christenings and anniversaries.

He said: "I always say ‘this sort of job is better than working’ because my work is getting to the venue and setting up – doing the actual show is not work really, it’s pleasure.”

Jonathan said he got into magic in his teens when he was in a concert party.

He got a job as a science technician, took part in amateur theatre, went to drama college, did lots of touring and then ‘the magic sort of took over’.

He even doubled for Paul Daniels in his last television series.

The tricks Jonathan performs involve cards, arm guillotines, ropes and coins, but his favourite sounds rather unique.

He told the Middy: “I’ve got a routine where I make an elephant disappear and that’s all I’m going to say.”

The free South Downs Magicians’ anniversary evening features a quiz, close-up magic and cabaret acts.

People must book a place by calling Jonathan on 01444 230409.