A WHITEABBEY octogenarian who won what was probably the first ever talent contest held in Newtownabbey was among the guests at the Mayor’s Search for a Star final at Theatre at The Mill on Friday night (April 19).
Raymond Taylor, from Station Road in Whiteabbey, was among a group of talented singers and performers who took to the stage at the Alpha Cinema, Rathcoole in 1958.
The event, which included a beauty pageant and talent contest, was organised by the new Urban District Council to mark the merging of the villages of Carnmoney, Glengormley, Jordanstown, Monkstown, Whiteabbey, Whitehouse and Whitewell to form the local government area of Newtownabbey.
“There were male singers, female singers, groups and a variety of other acts in the talent contest,” the 82-year-old told recalled. “I was a magician and at that time I went under the name ‘The Young Martini’. I performed some of my tricks and won the first prize, which was one pound fifty.”
Despite his success in the competition, Mr Taylor didn’t turn his talent for trickery and illusion into a career, instead going on to work as a coach builder and later as a foreman in a tobacco factory.
“I suppose I was semi-professional. I did magic shows here and there over the years, but these days I just do a bit for family and friends,” he explained.
Mr Taylor was invited along to the council’s Search for a Star final on Friday night by Mayor Victor Robinson.
“I had been talking to the Mayor about winning the talent contest at the old Alpha Cinema in 1958 and he invited me and my wife, Phemy along to see the show and get my picture taken with the winners, which was very nice of him.”
Mr Taylor said the Search for a Star final was “a very good show” and was impressed by the standard of the talent on stage. However, he was a bit disappointed not to see a magic act in the final.
“I was delighted to be able to invite Mr Taylor and his wife along on Friday night - they seemed to really enjoy the show. The whole event was a huge success and the feedback has been great,” alderman Robinson commented.