FAMILY and friends have gathered to celebrate the life of Bolton illusionist Richard De Vere who died suddenly in Thailand earlier this month.

Entertainers, musicians, dancers and magicians were among those who signed a book of condolence at the memorial held at the Viva Cabaret Bar in Blackpool yesterday.

Richard, who died on March 10, aged 46, had been due to launch a new show at the venue.

Poignantly his ashes contained in a silver urn were placed on the stage where he had been due to perform.

Richard’s partner Marc Lawlor said he was overwhelmed by the turnout.

He said: “Richard and I were together for 24 years and we did everything together.

“I have lost my best friend and I will never get that back.

“It is a great comfort to see so many of our friends here and the support I have had has been wonderful.

“Richard would have been very proud to see how well thought of he was.”

Richard’s parents Christopher and Christine Holt travelled from their home in Harwood for the memorial.

The magician, who was cremated in Thailand, died after developing pneumonia and then suffering a massive heart attack.

His faithful canine companion Shnorbitz was also brought along to the event which Richard’s close friends Lorraine Matthews and Katrina Meldrum had helped to organise.

Lorraine said: “Richard died abroad but many of his family and friends wanted to say their own goodbye to him and I am absolutely overwhelmed by the response we have had.

“Richard would have loved it.”

Ian Ogilvy, a former president of the Blackpool Magician’s Club, added: “Richard had a huge circle of friends and I am very pleased to see so many have turned out today.

“He is absolutely irreplaceable.”

Richard joined Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1995, performing in Mystique for 13 years, and then Beyond Belief.