A VERWOOD magician has won the title of UK’s top family entertainer of the year 2017.

Martin Gardiner, known as Magic Martin, was awarded the top accolade at the final of the competition held on Saturday at the Blackpool Magic Convention after winning the South West heat of the competition late last year. Martin, who grew up in Verwood and is a former pupil of Verwood First, Emmanuel and Ferndown Upper schools, was judged on his showmanship, originality, skill, magical content and entertainment value.

He was up against top magicians from the length and breadth of the UK and had to perform his best tricks within a 15-minute time limit to impress the judges.

The 32-year-old, who now lives in Devon, said of the award win: “I’m ecstatic, it’s brilliant. I’m in a bit of a magic bubble - enjoying the moment.

“It means the world to me, I’ve been working as a professional magician for 12 or 13 years.”

Martin had to perform in front of an audience, which also included fellow magicians, which he says was “quite nerve wracking”.

He was presented with a trophy and prize of £500, which he says will go towards new magic props.

This was not Martin’s first foray on to the big stage. In 2012 he took part in Britain’s Got Talent performing on stage at the Apollo Theatre in front of an audience of 4,000 including judges Simon Cowell, David Walliams and Alicia Dixon. He was given a yes and made it to the last 80 contestants at boot camp before having to bow out of the competition due to contractual agreements, performing his show at sea.