A YORK magician, entertainer and actor performed tricks to residents at a city care home - before heading to the West End for a role in Gary Barlow’s musical The Girls.

Josh Benson,19, is well known to children and parents in York as JB, having hosted many a children’s party.

But he brought his tricks to a different generation when he performed at Grimston Court, a residential care home on the eastern outskirts of York, where many of the residents are living with dementia.

He sat down in pairs or one to one and chatted to residents, modifying his illusions to fit the audience and changing his approach if they couldn’t speak or had problems with fine motor skills.

Deputy manager Emma Richardson said: “This lad isn’t a children’s entertainer...he’s an entertainer - full stop.

“It clearly matters so much to him and he throws everything into what he does.

“I’ve worked with people living with dementia for years and never seen anything like that before. They loved it.

“Some of the residents weren’t going to bother coming down to see the magician but they’re so glad they did now. Look at their faces!”

Josh, a former Archbishop Holgate’s School Sixth Former, whose television/film acting work includes Eric & Ernie, Casualty and Monroe, played Tommo in The Girls, a musical about the Calendar Girls, at Leeds Grand Theatre last December.

He is now set to take on the role at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End.

The show, due to premiere in February, is based on the 2003 Calendar Girls film, and is the real life story of a Women’s Institute group which decides to fundraise for a local hospital by posing for a raunchy-but-tasteful nude calendar, leading to the group becoming media sensations.

Josh has already gone to London to start rehearsals but he is set to return to York for Christmas, when he is planning to entertain guests at a ‘Xmas Presence’ party on Christmas Day.

The event is being organised by Ian Donaghy at Poppleton Community Centre for older people in the city who live alone.

The event has been described as ‘a wonderful opportunity to help alleviate loneliness within the elderly community at Christmas time...because no-one should have no-one.’

The first such event, held last year at Belfrey Hall in Stonegate, provided a Christmas Day meal and celebration for more than 40 older York residents.

Ian, who has worked closely with Age UK, has said it tries to capture the special feeling Christmas had for people as children.