Bracknell Nostalgia – When magic tricks take over the city

For this week’s nostalgia, we decided to go back to 1993 to see why the BBC reported on the town’s Lambbrook Prep School.

The three-and-a-half-minute feature shows that not only are students taking part in extracurricular activities that focus on sports and drama, but many have decided to take an interest in magic.

Children ranging from teens showed off their skills to many members of their special club as they prepared for a national competition taking place in the nearby town of Reading.

Peter Hopkins, who was working at the school at the time, said: “I think it helps the kids to have confidence.

“A lot of them aren’t gamers or play in big school theater, but they’re people whose confidence grows when they play theater.”

Speaking about the competition in the Royal Borough which has attracted young magicians from across the country, organizer Keith Churcher said: ‘This event started in 1974 when we felt there was a need for young people to be trained to magic, but to be trained properly.

“Over the years, the youngsters we’ve seen on our Junior Day (the national competition that took place in Reading), some of them have matured beautifully.”

The competition was just a one-day feature that gave youngsters and apprentice scammers the opportunity to learn from professional magicians offering advice to beginners.

Matthew Stokes from Camberley, who attended Lambrook Prep in Bracknell, did not win the competition, but he did win the ‘promising act’ award.

He had been working on his number for six months before the contest.

Speaking about his future goals, then 16, 29 years ago, he said: “I don’t think I can make a full-time career out of it.

“Eventually, after college, I might like to do magic on cruise ships, but that’s far from happening right now.

“But for now, I’m happy to do some shows and competitions.”

Matthew, who is now 45, uploaded the feature to his YouTube channel in April 2019.

Brian L. Hartfield