Bob Beasley was one such man.
Known to the children of Crawley as Uncle Bob Bernard, he was an entertainer and magician and, quite frankly, if he wasn’t at your school’s Christmas party it was considered to have been a bit of a flop.
Uncle Bob thrilled children with his magic tricks involving balloons, rabbits and guinea pigs – an he never lost one of the little creatures!
These pictures were taken from the Crawley Observer of January 1976 – and Bob appeared to have had a particularly busy Christmas and New Year.
He entertained the children of staff at Sainsbury’s Handbags, in Manor Royal; and more than 35 children packed into the fire station for magic and a slap-up tea.
He raised a laugh at a Christmas party for kiddies at Broadfield Community Hut playgroup and the Redifon children’s party
A report in the Observer said: “More than 30 three-to-four-year-olds and three mums were at the playgroup party, along with supervisors Brenda Baker and Joy Furneaux.
“Santa Claus was also at the Redifon party for their employees’ five-to-nine-year-olds and each of the 100 children there got a present.”
Next he dropped in at the Deltaflow Sports and Social Club where 105 children applauded his tricks.
Finally, he pulled a rabbit out of the hat for 48 children from West Green playgroup, who enjoyed jelly and ice cream and magic tricks at West Green Community Centre.
Bob, of Three Bridges, brought joy to a generation of children and there was genuine sadness when he died in his sleep in 2007, aged 77, following a long battle with ill health.
By then, Bob was a great-granddad.
His daughter-in-law Chris, also from Three Bridges, said at the time that Bob’s infectious laughter would be missed by the whole family.
She added: “He was born on Christmas Eve and I think that magic spread throughout his entire life. He was really kind and really generous; he was so well loved and respected.
“My memories of him are having a fantastic sense of humour and always having a good laugh. He always had a kind word to say about everyone.”
Bob, as well as pulling rabbits out of hats, had a keen eye for antiques and spent many hours restoring vintage cars.
Do you recognise any of the children in these pictures? Were you one of the youngsters who marvelled at Uncle Bob’s magic tricks.