BOLTON illusionist Richard De Vere has died suddenly while on holiday in Thailand.
Details have yet to be released as to the cause of death of the 46-year-old entertainer, who learned his craft while a schoolboy in Bolton.
Richard, whose Mystique show ran for many years at the Pleasure Beach, in Blackpool, had been due to begin a new engagement this year at Viva showbar.
In a statement, the Pleasure Beach said: “It is with deep sadness we have to confirm that Richard De Vere has unfortunately passed away while on vacation.
“We are obviously very shocked, sad and offer our deepest sympathies to Richard’s family, his partner and friends — simply a lovely gentlemen and talent who has left us far too early in his journey in life.”
The shock news, which broke last night, triggered an outpouring of tributes from friends and celebrities.
Friend and colleague Tom Bright, who was compere of Mystique, said: “When I heard the news I thought it was a joke, I couldn’t believe it. I’m totally in shock.
“Obviously we’re still waiting for details but I had not heard of any problems or him suffering with anything.
“He was a really nice guy, very talented, a lovely man who was totally unselfish and would help anyone.”
Fellow singer and TV presenter Jonathan Wilkes, who worked with Richard at the Pleasure Beach in the 1990s, added: “Really sad to hear the news that an old friend of mine Richard De Vere has passed away. God bless you mate.”
Richard took up magic when at school in Bolton.
He became a Pontins’ Blue Coat and his career took off.
It was at the holiday camp he met the comedian Bernie Winters. It turned into a friendship which saw Bernie bequeath him his beloved trademark, the St Bernard dog Schnorbitz.
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The famous hound became part of Richard’s act, as have the many Schnorbitzs who followed the original.
Last year Richard was forced to pull his Beyond Belief show at the Pleasure Beach after breaking his foot, an injury which ended an amazing run of 21 consecutive summer seasons in Blackpool.
Mr De Vere had links to Bolton’s Holt hosiery mill family and his grandfather was Bolton MP Arthur Holt.