A RUGBY player has been turning his hand to magic tricks in support of a children's charity.

Newcastle Falcons full-back Alex Tait, who grew up in Wolsingham and attended Barnard Castle School, wowed youngsters with his clever card tricks when he called in to meet the boys group at Children North East’s Young People’s Project in Newcastle’s West End this week.

It followed his announcement in February that he’d chosen Children North East alongside two other charities, Alzheimer’s Society and Restart Rugby, to be the beneficiaries of his testimonial year starting this September.

Tait was keen to get an insight into the help Children North East provides for children and young people – particularly around mental health issues.

The boys group and separate girls group at the charity’s Young People’s Service - formerly the West End Youth Enquiry Service or WEYES - are just two of a number of drop-ins ran from the Westgate Road premises which celebrates its 21st birthday later this year.

Young people learn to cook in the kitchen there and can socialise in the games room which is fully kitted out with a pool table and computers.

As well as youth workers, the Young People’s Service also employs 11 counsellors.

Last year, thanks to a range of funders, including Postcode Children Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Children North East offered counselling to around 300 children and young people on a wide range of issues from bullying at school to bereavement and how to cope with family break-ups.

Following his visit, Tait said it had been fantastic to meet the team at Young People’s Service.

“The visit to CNE was a great opportunity to meet some of the team behind the scenes and the children they benefit. The testimonial year is exciting and a huge part of this is being involved with fantastic charities such as CNE,” he said.

Lynn Renwick, service manager at the Young People’s Service, added: “Alex engaged really well with our young people and the lads were really enthusiastic about his visit. It was great to see how easily he got along with them.

"The whole charity is so excited about plans for Alex’s testimonial year.”