John Williams (1931 - 2007)
President of the Wessex Magical Association, Bournemouth.
Remembered by Ron Gilbert
It was with disbelief and shock that I heard that John had passed away in his sleep, in the early hours of December 21st, just a week after his 76th Birthday. I had known John for some 44 years, and a great friendship developed over that time.
John was perhaps better known as John Brett, who, together with his wife, Helga, formed the classic dove act in the early 1970’s known as ‘John Brett and Michelle’.
They appeared on TV “New Faces”, and because of the novelty of their act, at that time, were quickly approached by cruise line directors. They completed 10 ½ years cruising around the world with their act until deciding to return to dry land. John was also an excellent salesman and demonstrator and was always a firm favourite with large companies to work on the Trade and Exhibition Stands.
He was also an excellent woodworker, engineer and creative brain.
He ran a business in between making fishing rods. The rod used by Alan Shaxon in his known “Aerial Fishing” is one of Johns’ creations. A spell working in fibre glass boat construction added to his continual cough with the cork dust and fibre glass particles.
John met another fellow magician in his travels and formed two great shows which toured the leading theatres in the mid-eighties. These were the “Whacky Wizard Show” for children and “The Magic is Fun”, for adult audiences. Many original and special illusions were built for these productions.
The combination of his stage skills and experiences made him a very popular entertainer in Bournemouth, being able to cover anything that was asked.
He was well-known for his extreme generosity, not only to friends, but often to people he didn’t know well. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble. He was a bundle of energy and always enthusiastic.
Three years ago he lost his lovely wife, Helga to the big “C” and was over-wrought with sadness. To help overcome his grief and to help hide his emotions he threw himself into working harder. He rarely spoke to others of his achievements, being a modest man, yet his experiences and knowledge could fill book after book.
Daily, Carol, my wife, and I kept in touch and we met sometimes two or three times a week. We never ran short of anything to say!
The world of magic will be the sadder to lose such a gentleman, so quickly and so unexpectedly.
The programme he has left for the Wessex Magical Association will lie testament to his memory.
John is to be cremated at the Bournemouth Crematorium, Strouden Avenue, Charminster, Bournemouth on Monday January 7th 2008 at 2.15pm Family flowers only. Donations are invited by cheque payable to the Macmillan Cancer Trust, sent direct to Co-Op Funeral Care, 166, Windham Road, Bournemouth, BH1 4RA, quoting ‘the late John Williams’.
Ron Gilbert, December 2007