TRIBUTES have been paid to popular children's magician and entertainer Jack Stephens who died of pancreatic cancer last Thursday.

The 62-year-old, of Nether Street, Bromham, only found out he had cancer at Easter and died with wife Rosemary by his side in the early hours of May 14 in Salisbury District Hospital.

Mr Stephens was a full-time magician for more than 25 years, entertaining thousands of children all over the county at parties, fundraising events and fun days.

He was a master of close-up magic and also specialised in balloon modelling, puppetry, origami and singing with his guitar.

He also performed worldwide and a highlight of his career was performing for the Queen at a private lunch party in 2003.

Originally from South Africa Mr Stephens moved to the UK in 1980, where he met his wife of 31 years. The couple have two children, Caroline, 29, and Susie, 27.

Mrs Stephens said: “The girls always had big birthday parties when they were little, the whole class used to come to see Jack perform.

“He was so young and colourful, he always used to say leave them wanting more and that is what he has done with his life.

"Jack brought enormous happiness, fun and laughter to all who know him and touched the lives of so many. The world will be a duller place without him.”

Mr Stephens was regular performer at Rowdeford Garden Fair, having attended every year since it began in 2005.

Jeremy Sidmouth, Rowdeford Garden Fair committee member, said: "I was really shocked when I heard the news; he has come to the garden fair every year since we started.

"I remember my own children going to birthday parties where he performed when they were younger."

Barry Hickey, 67, who was headteacher at St Joseph’s School in Devizes for 24 years, met Mr Stephens when he first moved to Wiltshire.

He said: “Jack was always full of energy and enthusiasm. He always had something in his pocket to make you laugh.”

Devizes estate agent Martin Walker, 52, met Mr Stephens 20 years ago at Center Parcs where he was a DJ and Mr Stephens came regularly to perform.

He said: “There was always a joke with Jack, and he brought light and sparkle to people’s lives.”

Mr Stephens was also a member of the Magic Circle, The International Brotherhood of Magicians and Equity who will be sending representatives to his funeral.

His funeral will be held at Semington Crematorium at 1.45pm on June 4 where all are welcome.