‘Magical’ Llandudno care home resident celebrates 100th birthday

A RESIDENT and former magician at a Llandudno care home has recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

Mark Raffles, of the RMBI Care Co. Home Queen Elizabeth Court, enjoyed a celebration with his family, fellow residents and the staff at the home.

On reaching this remarkable milestone, Mark said: “I’ve had a marvellous life and I am lucky to have been able to continue for as long as I have.

“It’s been an amazing period and I am going to quote what my mother once said to a reporter about life: ‘It is truly wonderful.’”

Born in January 1922 in Manchester, Mark discovered he had a gift for magic at an early age. His first professional engagement was in 1938 at the Queen’s Park Hippodrome in Manchester.

North Wales Pioneer: A publicity shot from Mark's TV daysA publicity shot from Mark’s TV days

With the onset of the Second World War, having failed his army medical because of his stammer, Mark worked as a bricklayer building air raid shelters.

He was also part of the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) rescue squad during the Manchester blitz.

Before long, Mark was directed into the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), an organisation set up to provide entertainment for British armed forces personnel.

For the next three years, Mark entertained servicemen and women in army barracks and theatres all over the UK.

Following D-Day in 1944, Mark was drafted into Europe, performing to British, American and Canadian troops.

In May 1945, soon after Liberation Day, he performed for troops and civilians in the Channel Island of Guernsey.

Mark later received the Veterans Badge from the Ministry of Defence in recognition of his wartime service.

North Wales Pioneer: World famous magician Mark Raffles at RMBI Home Queen Elizabeth Court wearing his Veterans badge (on his lapel) and his magic circle medalsWorld famous magician Mark Raffles at RMBI Home Queen Elizabeth Court wearing his Veterans badge (on his lapel) and his magic circle medals

After the war, Mark returned to playing the music halls with his famous on-stage pickpocket act. He first appeared on our television screens in 1949.

Mark began a new act after falling in love with his late wife Joan. For many years, the couple toured as ‘Mark Raffles and Joan’. They had three children, who followed them into showbusiness.

Mark and Joan later took over a well-known variety act called The Wychwoods. They had 12 toy poodles, which were seemingly produced out of thin air.

The act played during summer seasons, pantomime and television for twelve years.

Mark became a regular on our TV screens during the 60s, 70s and 80s, appearing on popular variety shows with his famous pickpocket act under the stage name of Ray St Clair.

North Wales Pioneer: A publicity shot of ‘Mark Raffles and Joan’ in their showbiz heydayA publicity shot of ‘Mark Raffles and Joan’ in their showbiz heyday

He also guest starred on TV game shows such as ‘3-2-1’ hosted by Ted Rogers.

Mark is a life member of the Inner Magic Circle with a gold star.

He is also both a past president of The International Brotherhood of Magicians and a life member and past president of the Blackpool Magicians Club.

He is also a life member of the Invisible Lodge in the U.S.A.

Gary Carr, one of the activities coordinators at RMBI Home Queen Elizabeth Court, said: “It’s fair to say that Mark has brought more than a touch of magic to our home.

“Our other residents and staff love hearing about his amazing career.

“It was an honour to celebrate his 100th birthday at our home.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno