A magician pulled a rabbit out of the hat this week by being awarded the Magic Circle's highest performing degree.

Rob Cox, a magical humorist from Borehamwood, was awarded the Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star prize.

Mr Cox, who is also the examinations secretary of the magic society, first started waving his wand at the age of eight, with his first public performance at 11.

He hung up his magician's cloak during his student days to concentrate on a musical career and went on to produce several albums.

To supplement his income as a maths teacher, Mr Cox returned to magic, but later became the deputy head of a comprehensive school in Luton.

It was only after performing for three weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in the Eighties that he decided to become a professional magician.

Mr Cox, 60, now works as a close-up magician - where the audience is next to the performer, sometimes even receiving a trick one-on-one - and is billed as one of the country's top cabaret artists.

In his role as the gatekeeper of The Magic Circle, it is his job to interview all perspective members to assess whether they are ready to take an exam to join the society's world-class magicians.

Mr Cox, of Cob Close, off Farriers Way, said: "I feel very honoured to receive this award as there are only up to 300 people in the world that are allowed this degree at any one time.

"I don't know what made me interested in magic as there has not been anybody either in the profession or showbusiness in my family. I've always been fascinated with brain-teasers and puzzles though so that could have been a reason as to why I chose the job."

For more information on how to become a member of the Magic Circle, visit www.themagiccircle.co.uk