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Grand Master of Magic

Award to Ken Bates
24 October 2009

Citation delivered by Stanley R Goudge Historian of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Inc at the Palmerston North Magic Circle's "A Magical Weekend"

Good Evening, I am Stan Goudge, Historian for the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Incorporated, and when ever I make a speech at a special occasion like this, it is to announce a special award to a very special magician. It is special because this award has only been bestowed upon fifteen magicians in forty years. The first Grand Master of Magic Award being made to Edgar the Great Benyon in 1969.

Tonight a new member joins the exalted company of the recipients of the Grand Master of Magic. They are: Edgar the Great Benyon, Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson, Graham Grant, Barry Brook, Bernard Reid, Burns Scandrett, Wayne Rogers, Alan Watson and Greg Britt.

Some of these Grand Masters are here tonight - Please stand, Grand Masters of Magic that we may acknowledge your special place in our magic history.

Let me briefly remind you of the criteria for the Grand Master of Magic Award.

"Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be Masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years. When making the award consideration must also be given to the standard achieved by the previous recipients." To this proud tradition we now add a new name. Please acknowledge

Mr Wonderful, Grand Master of Magic: Ken Bates

Let me tell you a little about Ken Bates "Mr Wonderful". Ken started dabbling in magic in Leicester, England. His friend Brian Lord was a member of the Leicester Magic Circle and had a pet shop next to Ken Bates' green grocery shop So, Ken used to go with Brian to magic conventions and do the odd trick or two When he met Shirley he was always playing tricks and pranks on people, and when he and Shirley had their engagement party he decided to make his debut with a fire eating trick. Unfortunately - too much alcohol saw him blow the cotton balls that were doused in fluid, out from his mouth, to hit the floor and burn a lot of holes in the carpet. That did not make a great impression and his fire eating days were short lived. Ken's Dad, Fred Bates also used to do the odd trick at parties, having been interested in magic as well.

Ken and Shirley, with their two children, came to live in New Zealand and settled in Wanganui. In 1974 Ken saw an advertisement in the local paper that said a group of amateur conjurers were wanted to form a magic club. So, along he went - and the Wanganui Magic Circle was formed. He was a foundation member, and so began his journey for the next 35 years of magic. Ken's first show was for a group of people at the Friendship club in Whanganui and at that time he was paid with what? A jar of jam, a Pavlova and some ham. I guess that is why he has hammed it up ever since.

Later when the Wanganui Club went into recess he was to join the Palmerston North Magic Circle. His interest in magic grew and he has attended conventions in New Zealand and overseas: Sydney, Melbourne, Honolulu, and Las Vegas.

Ken Bates is a well known name in Wanganui entertainment circles having performed at many different venues. He was a resident Magician at the Palm Lounge in Wanganui for 15 years, performed at the Four Seasons Theatre, Black and White Minstrel shows, Wheel Tapper's and Shunters shows, music halls, birthday parties, corporate events and well most places really that would have him!

Ken and Shirley have travelled to Vanuatu for the past 12 years and performed at the Waterfront Bar and Grill - their friends Don and Donna MacQuoid always welcome them there. He also was involved in educational magic for school children in Vanuatu.

Their son Paul Bates learned the art of magic from Ken as a teenager, (Paul is the third generation of the Bates family to take up magic) and years later became a professional magician in Wellington as Zappo. For the past 15 years Ken and Paul have often performed together.

Ken has attended many Magic Conventions and won not only the Comedy Cup several times, but also Children's Entertainer, Stage Card Effect and placings in Close Up competitions. The Bates magic philosophy is that magic should be fun, and you should have fun doing it. His sense of fun and the ridiculous is contagious and makes him a favourite of his audiences.

Shirley, his wife, has been a gracious partner in his magic ventures. Her performance in the duo Comedy Act "Mr Wonderful" is a delight as she subtly upstages the magician and ruins his act. She too has received at an award at NZ Magic Conventions as the Best Magical Assistant. Shirley has often been the butt of Ken's jokes and comedy acts and has put up with the magic and a house full of stuff for many many years.

Ken is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, The Tony Wilson Ring 160, and has always be an encourager of magic and a fine mentor, not only for his son Paul, but also for others including Raoul Solomon who as a child and teenage magician made a impact at several magic conventions. Ken has worked on several magic convention committees, notable at Wanganui for the 23rd New Zealand Magician's Convention in 1995 and at Palmerston North the 28th in 2006. He is an active member of the Palmerston North Magic Circle, and is the current President. For years he has travelled the seventy five kilometers from Wanganui to Palmerston North and back for Club meetings and functions. How's that for dedication to the art and craft of magic?

Ken we salute you. We hold you in high esteem as a magician, a friend and a lover of magic. We hail you as a Grand Master of Magic.

Jon Zealando will present the award to Ken Bates on behalf of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians.

And Robin Lucas Secretary of the Palmerston North Magic Circle will present flowers to Mrs Wonderful Shirley Bates.

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