A once shy and retiring teenager is now wowing the crowds with his tricks and illusions after discovering he has the magic touch.

Up-and-coming magician James Tombling, 18, is taking the world of magic by storm with his amazing card and mind reading tricks.

But less than two years ago 18-year-old James was so lacking in confidence he rarely left his bedroom at his home in Kersal, Salford.

Youth worker Tommy Lever convinced James to get involved with the Lower Kersal Young People’s Group (LKYPG) and he has never looked back.

James now volunteers his time every week helping with the junior sessions and his confidence has soared.

James is studying plumbing at Salford City College, but his real passion lies with magic and he aspires to become a professional magician.

Now thanks to Salford based-housing provider Salix Homes, James is one-step closer to pursuing his dream after successfully securing funding through its Dream, Aspire, Reward, Excel (DARE) fund.

DARE provides grants for young people to help them achieve their goals and the grants are administered by the Salix Homes Youth Panel, made up of 16 to 24 year olds.

Self-taught magician James is the latest recipient of the DARE fund after he applied for £450 to buy himself some new professional tricks and a smart suit for his act.

James said: “I first got interested in magic when I was 11 years old. My uncle showed me an elastic band trick, but he wouldn’t tell me how he did it, so I spent ages trying to figure it out and it went from there.

“I’d like to say thank you to Salix Homes for the DARE grant. I’ve been able to buy a new suit and some professional tricks which I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. It’s given me much more confidence to perform in public.”

Youth worker Tommy is thrilled at James’ transformation from shy teenager to talented illusionist.

He said: ”When I first met with James he wouldn’t say boo to a goose, but now his confidence is soaring.

“Last year he was involved in a play we did at The Lowry and when he came off stage he said to me ‘I can do anything now’. It’s been a remarkable transformation.”

With his sharp suit and new bag of tricks James is already securing professional gigs and has performed at the Cube Art Gallery in Manchester.

Sue Sutton, director of customer and neighbourhood services at Salix Homes, said: “James managed to cast a spell over our Youth Panel and they were delighted to grant him the money so he could pursue his dream.

“James is a very talented young magician and he should be proud of all he’s achieved at such a young age.  We hope this DARE money will go some way towards helping him achieve his dream of becoming a famous magician and we hope James’ story will inspire other young people to apply for DARE funding.”

Funding is still available for young people through the DARE fund. If you are a Salix Homes’ tenant aged 16-24 and would like to apply for a DARE grant, call Sian Sharples on 0161 7798849 or email sian.sharples@salixhomes.org