He's not drawing comparisons with Harry Potter's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but for Sam Fitton, Lancaster University proved to be the perfect launch pad for his career as a professional and award-winning magician
Sam had dreamt of a performing career from his early teens, but his passion for science directed him first towards medicine and then to becoming a biology teacher when he started out at Lancaster. But the magic had taken hold. Whilst growing up in Ramsbottom, he says every stage of his education channelled him towards Lancaster University. Having visited other universities, the friendliness he found at Lancaster campus inspired him keen to go there, along with the views over to Morecambe Bay. He had been doing conjuring tricks since the age of 8, and even at 10 was dipping into reference books to find ever slicker tricks, which gained him professional gigs in hotels, and performances for weddings and birthday parties from the age of 14, alongside his school studies.
“As a fresher, I used my magic tricks as a real ice-breaker,” says Sam. “From the start I was known as Magic Sam. I would do a trick and I would make friends for life. Magic is hard to ignore.”
Using his degree
Sam found his studies absorbing - particularly the theories of evolution - which gave him the basis for setting up his current business. The Red Queen Hypothesis states that one has to keep running to stay in the same evolutionary position, whilst evolution requires a superhuman effort. The idea served Sam as a sound principle on which to operate as a self-employed performer.
Outside his studies he took an active role in college life, which gave him more vital life-skills. His first year in charge of publicity for the Junior Common Room taught him valuable marketing strategy, whilst his stint as College President provided him with event management, book keeping and financial experience. “It’s amazing how these skills are so transferrable,” says Sam. “With what I learned in Biology and socially, I had my business model.”
Devising the plan
During Sam’s final year at Lancaster, the idea of performing as a magician took root, but he did not know how to make it a reality. So he signed up as a Special Constable with Lancashire Police and then worked for Lancaster County Council’s customer services department, all the time performing his magic tricks at weddings, corporate and VIP events. Then in 2013, he left his job to follow his dream.
In 2014 he was voted North West Close-up Magic Champion and he also won the ‘UK’s Best Wedding Entertainment’ 2015.
Sam often makes up his own tricks, and so repeatedly calls upon the scientific knowledge he developed during his time at Lancaster University to create his illusions. For him, the value of his three years at university was in equipping him with a whole set of skills on which he could build an unorthodox career. He says: “Lancaster gave me the opportunity and the time to discover who I wanted to be and you can’t put a value on that.”