Tributes for Clitheroe born photographer who captured the Queen on camera and was also a world renowned magician and leading North West children's entertainer

One of the North West's leading children's entertainers and magicians, who worked with some of the industry's top names, has died at the age of 81.

Clitheroe born John Pye was also a well known and respected photographer, who listed capturing the Queen on camera when she visited his hometown as one of his career highlights.

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Restoration of Clitheroe Library clock plaque
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John performed everything, from close up magic to stage magic, and a favourite was cutting his assistant, who was also his wife Carol, in half with a guillotine which included Carol’s famous scream as a blade went ‘through’ her.

Renowned magician John Pye holds an audience on the Great Wall of China spellbound as he performs some of his magic tricks. This was in 2012 when John became president of the IBM (International Ring) in Norfolk Virginia, USA, the pinnacle of his magic career, which saw him travelling throughout the USA and then visiting China

John's love of magic was ignited at the age of seven when he received a box of magic tricks as a Christmas present.

This inspired him to learn and practise magical skills and the art of entertaining an audience. He would set up his puppet show n the family garage and perform for family and friends.

He became truly hooked on this new hobby purchasing books and attending lectures on magic where he met world famous magicians and even made his own props for use in his act.

Whilst a student at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, John would be regularly called upon to represent his form in the annual end of term Christmas concert when his spot would finish with a mailbag escape.

John Pye the photographer outside the family business in Clitheroe

John was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the British Ring and the Modern Mystic League of Blackburn.

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He then progressed to the Northern Magic Circle where he was secretary for 14 years, and in 1981 became president during their silver jubilee year.

He was a full member of the IBM for almost 50 years and the proud recipient of the Order of Merlin shield.

During this time he worked with many big names, including Ali Bongo, Paul Daniels, and Tommy Cooper.

John Pye with his trusty assistant and wife Carol performing his famous guillotine trick
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He was a member of the Inner Magic Circle with a Gold Star and was invited to become president of the IBM British ring in 1995, the year of its Diamond Jubilee, which saw him travel with Carol all around Great Britain.

In 2012 John became president of the IBM (International Ring) in Norfolk Virginia, USA. During the next 12 months he would represent the IBM at conventions and meetings throughout the world.

This was undeniably the pinnacle of John's magic career, which saw the couple travelling throughout the USA and then visiting China. John was even filmed and photographed by Chinese press and TV performing tricks on the Great Wall of China.

John was a third generation member of the family business, Pye’s of Clitheroe, which was established by his grandfather Edward Pye in 1918.

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John Pye with Carol, his wife of 59 years

Based on York Street, John worked along side his father Ronnie and aunt Mabel. He specialised in the photographic section handling retail, weddings, studio portraits, school photos as well as construction projects.

Over the years the shop played a huge part in local peoples' lives, being involved in many family celebrations.

The shop window was always popular, as it displayed pictures of all the most recent weddings and celebrations, you knew you had 'made it' if you were in Pye’s window.

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Educated at Pendle Junior School in Clitheroe John passed the 11 plus exam in 1952 and went to Clitheroe Royal Grammar School.

He was a member of the school choir and the cross country team. John retained the continuous contact with the school throughout his working life and attended many of the Alumni reunions, becoming an honorary president of the Old Clitheronians’ Association many years later.

In his spare time John enjoyed walking, reading, jazz music and playing the piano, and, in 1960 he joined the Parish Church Operatic and Dramatic society in the chorus line and played in a number of their productions.

A regular worshipper at St Mary's Church in Clitheroe with his family John met his future wife, Carol, there.

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John spotted Carol, who had recently moved from her native Wales to take up her first teaching post at Ribblesdale County Secondary School , while he was singing in the choir and she was in the congregation.

The vicar invited Carol to attend the 55 Society group at the church so she could meet people of her own age and that's how the couple met.

Married for 59 years, the couple had two children, Michael and Julia.

John was a member of Clitheroe Round Table and later joined the Rotary Club of Ribblesdale where he was an active member eventually becoming president and was awarded the honour of a Paul Harris Fellowship by his fellow members.

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He also spent 30 years as the organist at St Ambrose Church in Grindleton and was an active member of both the parochial church council and parish council.

Julia said her father 'lived life to the full' adding: "He and mum were never happier than when embarking on a trip by plane, train, automobile or boat.

"Dad loved meeting people, spending time with family and friends and the odd gin and tonic.

"He always had a smile on his face and a funny story to tell, he will be greatly missed by all."

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John, who had battled Parkinson's Disease, also leaves his granddaughter Emily, son in law David and sisters Elizabeth and Catherine.