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Beloved Faversham magician Myles Phillips, known as Mr Mystery, dies aged 74

A much-loved entertainer has died suddenly - prompting an outpouring of tributes.

Magician Myles Phillips, known to many as Patrick, Mr Mystery, Mr Magic or Uncle Myles, sadly died at his home in Faversham on Sunday night, aged 74.

Myles Phillips, also known as Mr Mystery
Myles Phillips, also known as Mr Mystery

His son Alan Phillips, from Ashford, said the cause of his death is not yet known and will be established by the coroner.

“We weren’t aware of him being ill or anything,” said Alan, 49.

“I spoke to him on Sunday evening - I spoke to my dad every day - and he said ‘OK, speak to you tomorrow, I must pop round and see you’. So he obviously wasn’t feeling unwell either.”

Myles was born in Ireland but moved to Kent with his mother and siblings at the age of 12.

He grew up in Rodmersham and went to school in Sittingbourne, before moving to Faversham.

Myles entertained thousands of people during a career spanning four decades
Myles entertained thousands of people during a career spanning four decades

There, he lived in Preston Street with his wife Janet, with whom he had two sons, Alan and Sean.

“My dad left school with virtually no qualifications,” explained Alan.

“When I was growing up, he worked in a Peugeot dealer in Canterbury, in the tannery, he’d been a dumper truck driver for Ward Homes - anything to earn a living and put food on the table.”

But Myles has always had an interest in magic and in about 1980, decided to launch a new career as Uncle Myles - before later changing his show name to Mr Mystery.

“Would dad say he was a professional magician? Probably not,” said Alan.

Myles Phillips has sadly died, at the age of 74
Myles Phillips has sadly died, at the age of 74

“But that’s what his profession was and that’s what he earned his money from over the last 40 years. It was something he absolutely loved.”

Myles joined magic societies in Canterbury and Maidstone, and soon became a well-known and popular entertainer across the Faversham area.

“When he first started, he didn’t drive,” said Alan. “My dad would go off on the train with a suitcase on Saturdays and Sundays, to do magic shows at people’s houses.

“That’s how dedicated he was to it - he’d take bookings and then he’d have to find someone to take him or get the train, with all his stuff in an old suitcase.

“He has always worked very, very hard.

Myles performing a Punch and Judy show
Myles performing a Punch and Judy show

“And back in the early days, for not a lot of money. But we didn’t go without.”

Sadly, the family suffered a tragedy in 2000, when Myles’ son Sean died after a routine knee operation at a Southampton hospital.

The 31-year-old had developed toxic shock syndrome but it had not been diagnosed by doctors, who were later found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Myles is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Janet, as well as his son Alan, and two grandchildren.

Alan says it is impossible to say how many shows his dad put on, or how many thousands of people he entertained.

“He would average 50 shows at Christmas, for schools, nurseries, private parties, and probably do two or three every weekend for most of the year,” he said.

“In recent years he was at Kent and East Sussex Railway in Tenterden quite often.

“He’s done the Hop Festival, and the Transport Festival in Faversham.”

On Saturday mornings when he wasn’t working, Myles could often be found by Faversham market, where he’d blow up balloons for children.

“The money wasn’t really important to him - he might come home with £20 - it was just doing what he enjoyed doing,” said Alan.

Myles with a balloon animal
Myles with a balloon animal

“Having a laugh with people and entertaining kids.”

This year, the pandemic put a stop to his shows.

“That made life very difficult for him - it’s the one thing he loves and he enjoys and he couldn’t do it,” said Alan.

“But over lockdown, he’s probably been more active than he ever has - he would walk along the creek out towards Oare.

“He’s always enjoyed boats - you’d always find him at Faversham Creek or Oare Creek.”

Since Myles’ death, hundreds of people have taken to social media to pay tribute, and thank him for the happiness he brought to so many.

One described him as “a great entertainer and puppet master, and genuinely one of life’s nice guys”, while another said he was “very much a part of Faversham ”.

“Some people have messaged me today saying ‘I remember when he did my party, and he’s done my kid’s party since’,” said Alan. “He’s spanned generations.

"He was just a nice man. Not just because he was my dad - he just was. He always cared about a lot of people. All he really wanted was for everybody to be peaceful and happy.”

Funeral arrangements are yet to be made.

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