My name is Guy, I’m 39 years old, a graduate and long-time supporter of the College of Magic. I was first introduced to the College by a friend in 1990 and was instantly drawn in to the mysterious alternate reality. Even today the notion of an actual school that teaches magic elicits a rare moment of childhood fantasy that I cherish dearly. While a sense of wonder was what initially drew me in and kept me hooked throughout my youth, something far more meaningful was borne out of that experience and it is that which truly resonates with me today. The organisation deftly draws on the powerful emotional journeys that the young magicians go through as a vehicle for personal growth and development on various levels. Human beings are inherently driven by emotion, which is why capitalising on this approach in the magic context makes for a tremendously significant impact when it comes to improving the lives of young people and their families.

For decades (yikes – decades!) after completing course 6, I felt that the various life skills I’d acquired, and subsequent personal growth reflected the true value of my experience at this remarkable organisation. That is undeniable, and I’m confident that my fellow graduates will share this sentiment. It is however only in recent years, after being married and having children of my own, that a more nuanced view of that value has emerged. It could best be summed up with the word “family”.

In my own life, I’m fortunate to come from a very stable and supportive background, but even so, in the College of Magic I found a second home – a family. Through the ups and downs of life our greatest moments come from meaningful interaction with those who love us and whom we care deeply about. The beauty of the family dynamic is that we benefit not only on an individual level, but family evokes empathy for others in a powerful way. We rejoice as our kin flourish, and we feel their pain as they endure hardships. We benefit from their support on good days and bad, and we feel an inescapable need to ensure their wellbeing in return. Most families will have some members that don’t quite fit into society’s conservative moulds, but who still find safety and acceptance within the family environment. Once again, the College of Magic’s family members, quirky as some might be, find a nurturing safe haven amongst each other.

We all have our own stories, brief moments in time that, on recollection reveal this unique family relationship. After spending so much intimate time at the organisation, it’s hard to choose which memories deserve a mention on an auspicious occasion such as this. There are the light hearted, humorous memories, such as the time I was left in a prolonged state of “suspension” while part of a group performing the Broom Suspension illusion at a fundraising show in the mid-nineties. A mechanical failure in the illusion had left me dangling with a sheepish grin for quite some time, while those around me nervously kept performing – the show must go on and all that! Eventually the “rescue team”, led by David mounted the stage mid performance to “manually override” the failed apparatus. They had my back – literally.

But there’s another story I’d like to impart about a touching gesture I experienced during a moment of vulnerability. I was in course 5, and after spending many months working on a close-up magic act I was both anxious and excited to compete at the National Magic Champs held in Joburg that year. I was a little over confident and had convinced myself that all the work put in could only result in a Gold medal… I was mistaken. On the day I ended up coming 3rd, and a fellow COM student came in 2nd. I was devastated, and although I am ashamed to admit it, somewhat resentful of my friend’s success. I left and sat outside in the street feeling pretty miserable. Soon after my friend came outside and sat beside me. Sensing my grave disappointment, he extended his arm and offered me his own, hard won Silver medal in a heart-warming gesture. I was reminded about what was really important about that special place. That was 24 years ago, and today I count him as one of my closest friends. For all of us, the trust and friendships forged over the years have been galvanised by moments such as these, and they make for the most rewarding of existences. We can go years without seeing some of the “family”, and then somebody might be back in town briefly and we arrange a meet up. When that happens we pick up right where we left off, with the warmth, laughter and antics that only members of the College of Magic family can instigate. That’s what makes our family – the people. It’s a very rare and precious community that we are part of, and it is to be treasured and protected.

My exposure to the COM from a young age has equipped me with skills that have allowed me to thrive in my personal and professional life. My career has evolved, as a 3D artist, designer and ultimately entrepreneur. I’ve had the opportunity travel the globe, live in foreign countries, and now reside in Cape Town with my wife Ploy, and our two children, Nathan and Mae. Having experienced the magic that is the college first hand, we support the organisation by sponsoring students on a permanent basis. As business people, we are always looking for a return on investment, and in the social upliftment context we cannot think of a better place to “invest” and give back. When I look back at almost 40 years in this place I am immensely grateful for the time spent as a part of the College of Magic family. Words cannot express the massive personal sacrifices made by the visionary patriarch, David Gore, as well as every other person who’s given of their time, and committed to the multifaceted demands that the success of the organisation relies upon. Congratulations and thanks from the bottom of our hearts.