TRIBUTES have been paid to a former magician who spent more than half a century as reigning European yo-yo champion.

Don Robertson died on Sunday, aged 91, while surrounded by friends and family.

Mr Robertson, who lived in Kenworthy Road, Braintree, was held in high regard by the Magic Circle society and was something of a celebrity having appeared on TV, as well as on stage with the likes of pop giants ABBA and Boney M.

Part of his act was performing tricks with yo-yos and it was this he was best known for after he was crowned European champion in 1957. It was a title he proudly held on to until 2010.

Son Neil said: “The whole joke was he held the title of European champion for 53 years – the reason being because it wasn’t held for another 53 years.

“He was technically undefeated but he made a joke of it. There was even a question mark if it ever took place.

“He had a friend who was world yo-yo champion which we all thought was a bit convenient.”

Mr Robertson spent two years in the RAF in the mid 1940s before he went on to spend decades working for the Port of London Authority.

He first met his wife Pauline during a magic show at Butlin’s on the Isle of Wight, and the couple went on to have four children.

Mr Robertson became a full-time magician and entertainer in his 50s and daughter Vivien says he was still capable of performing tricks right until the very end of his life.

She said: “It all started when he saw someone performing with a yo-yo when he was young and he immediately fell in love with it.

“I myself love magic because of him. I’m always watching it if I can.

“But I reckon there are more than half of his tricks he never taught us. We weren’t allowed to know the secrets because he was a member of the Magic Circle.”

Neil added: “He was a smashing bloke. Everybody liked him and he didn’t have an enemy in the world.”

“In real life he was a quiet, kind and gentle man. But when he went on stage he became a performer and was a completely different person.

“He was very, very good at what he did.”