WHEN local man Keith Davies was treated to a short break in London by his partner Barbara Lane, little did he know it would end with him appearing on a bizarre addition of Family Fortunes and being honoured nationally for raising half a million pounds for good causes.

However, as viewers who tuned in to BBC’s The One Show last week found out, the man fondly known as the Abergavenny Elvis handled the bizarre series of events in the same cool, calm, and collected manner as his idol.

An audience of millions saw TV personality Gino D’Acampo award Keith The One Show’s ‘One Big Thank You’ for his fundraising activities during the last two decades. Yet as Keith points out, “It was very unexpected, because I just feel lucky to be able to sing Elvis songs on stage and raise money for charity at the same time. The fact that I’ve been recognised nationally for doing so is mind-blowing, but the award is more for Abergavenny and the people who have supported me over the years. We’ve got a great community here and anything that helps give it exposure and put the town on the map is great as far as I’m concerned.”

The King at the castle!
The 'King' at the Castle! (Tindle )

Such modesty is typical of the man whose strange shadow life as an Elvis Presley tribute act began accidentally while following Wales around during the Six Nations

"It was through going on tour with the boys and following Wales to places such as Scotland and France that the whole thing kicked off. I'd get up to do a turn on the karaoke after the match, and the Elvis songs I sang would always go down a storm,” explained Keith.

Before he had a chance to cry, “Uh huh!” Keith found himself on stage in Llanvapley Village Hall 20 years ago. A friend who was aware of Keith’s chops on the karaoke asked him if he’d be interested in doing a concert for charity as the idol he had worshipped since the age of ten.

Jumping in at the deep end, and backed by a group of friends calling themselves 'The Memphis Mafia,' Keith committed himself to perform two one-hour-long sets in front of eighty people.

Keith recalls, "Me and the boys agreed from the start, that if we were going to put on shows as 'Elvis and the Memphis Mafia', then it was vitally important for us to take the whole performance and preparation side of things seriously.

"The worst thing you can do is to put on a comedy or half-hearted performance because the audience will see straight through it. I find it only really works if I become the persona of Elvis completely for those two hours I am on stage. As soon as the show's finished I'm Keith again, but in true Presley style I always end up buying everyone drinks at the bar after the show," adds Keith with a grin.

"However, when on stage I have to completely immerse myself in the Presley personality to have the confidence and relaxed manner to carry it off in a believable fashion. It's just as well I have always been comfortable in the role of an entertainer because any doubt or lack of self-belief on my behalf would ruin the show.”

All shook up! (Tindle News)

That confidence has seen Keith perform all over the world in all manner of places as ‘Elvis’. And walking all those miles in the king’s shoes led him to a primetime slot on national television to pick up an award he had no knowledge of until the big day!

“My partner Barbara nominated me to The One Show but she did a great job of keeping things from me,” sighed Keith. “Once they had decided that I would be receiving an award, Babs was asked what celebrities apart from Elvis I looked up to because they’d like to arrange for one of them to present me with the award.”

Knowing that her partner was a keen fan of boxing, Barbara suggested Tyson Fury. The Gypsy King presenting an award to the King of Rock n’ Roll had a certain poetry to it, but unfortunately, the champ couldn’t make it because he was busy preparing for his bout with Oleksandr Usyk.

The producers sounded the bell again and the name Ricky Hatton was thrown into the ring.

The retired pugilist stepped up to the plate and plans were put into place for him to ‘bushwhack’ Keith with the award in local boxer Kieran Gething’s gym. Unfortunately, Hatton was laid low with a bout of flu and couldn’t make it.

At one point, none other than Tom Jones was on board to congratulate his fellow songbird for raising so much money for charity, but scheduling commitments for the boy from Pontypridd meant it was another no-go.

By this stage, The One Show producers were pulling their hair out in frustration and asked Barbara, if there was anyone apart from boxers and singers that Keith admired. Or anything else he was into?

“He’s quite into cooking,” She replied. “Great!” They said. “We’ll ask Gordon Ramsay’s people if he can do it.” Unfortunately, the chef with attitude was busy filming in another part of the world. “There’s always Gino!” Said someone hopefully. The Italian Stallion was contacted and said he’d love to do it. However, because he was contracted to ITV, Mr D’Acampo’s people asked if they could get Keith on the set of Family Fortunes before they ambushed him with the award.

Set with the trick task of getting her other half to Maidstone Studios without letting on why, Barbara went to work.

Keith told the Chronicle, “The first I heard about it was when Barbara said she’d arranged for us to have an overnight stay somewhere to see a show but it was a surprise. The only trouble was the break was booked for a Monday and Tuesday. My reaction was, ‘Why can’t we just go on the weekend? I’ve got work commitments and meetings in the week.’ But Babs was adamant and simply said, ‘Everything’s booked! We’re going!’ So off we went.”

Keith explained that when they were at the hotel Barbara said she’d arranged for the pair of them to visit the ITV studios. ‘Why?” Asked Keith. “Because I’ve arranged for you to audition for Britain’s Got Talent,” she said.

“I was a bit gobsmacked, to be honest,” explained Keith. “I said, ‘You could have told me. I could have sorted out the backing tracks and everything else out.’”

Barbara assured him that everything was in hand and that there was a live band waiting to accompany him. The only thing he needed to do was to dress really smart and loud because the TV people said it would help him to stand out.

“Thankfully I had just the shirt for the job,” revealed Keith, as suited and booted, primped and preened, he left the hotel for his date with destiny.

Much to Keith’s confusion, upon arrival at the studios, they were greeted by execs who took one Barbara one way and insisted Keith went with them to another.

“I thought they were leading me to the audition space, but they took me to a room where Gino was having his make-up applied. He turned to look at me and said, ‘Hello Keith!’ I said, ‘How do you know my name?’ He said, ‘I’ve been reading all about you, and you’re here to take part in a special edition of Family Fortunes.’”

Reunited with Barbara in the audience, Keith was called up by Stuart the warm-up man to help rehearse the big money round. Soon, Gino began asking him some familiar questions.

(The sky's the limit for Elvis! Tindle News)

Keith told the Chronicle, “When asked to name a town in Wales beginning with the letter ‘A’ I thought I’d go off script and say Amroth, just to see Gino’s face. The same happened when he asked me to name a small tree and I said ‘Japanese Elm’ instead of ‘Bonsai’. We were all falling about laughing and Gino was looking around for Ant or Dec or someone because he kept saying, ‘Is this a set-up?’ At one point he threw his cards on the floor and urged, ‘Keith, you’ve got to play the game.’ But I always like to do things differently. We all had a great time though, and there was a lot of laughter and swearing on set as I recall, but Gino kept saying, ‘Don’t worry about that, we’ll edit it all out!”

When asked by Gino to name a fundraising hero who has raised over 450 thousand pounds putting on shows as Elvis in and around Wales, Keith admitted the enormity of the situation finally dawned on him and he felt extremely honoured.

“Hearing all the applause and getting special televised messages from Ross Kemp and others was a big moment,” said Keith. I couldn’t believe that it had all led to this. Yet I want everyone who has ever helped or supported our act, to know that this award is as much from them as it is for me. Without them, none of it would be possible and it’s all thanks to the King!”

Since being awarded The One Big Thank-you Keith has also been invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May.

Keith told the Chronicle, “It was sent a day before The One Show appeared on air. It was another great honour and hopefully, I’ll get to meet King Charles again.”

Keith first met King Charles III on one of his numerous visits to Abergavenny.

He explained, “Various dignitaries and community members were all lined up in St. Mary’s to be introduced to the Prince, shake his hand, and if we were lucky enjoy a few words with him. We were each told we had 40 seconds each and not to ask any questions.

“So when he approached me I was introduced as a local celebrity who had raised a lot of money for charity as an Elvis Presley tribute act. He then looked at me thoughtfully and said, ‘And you’ve raised all this money by just singing Elvis songs.’ To which I replied, ‘Pretty much.’ The Prince just shook his head and said, ’That’s marvellous,’ before adding, ‘I can see the likeness.’”

Keith added, “I cracked a joke about how nice it must be for the Prince to finally meet the King, and he loved that. We must have been nattering for about two minutes about whether I dye my hair or wear a wig to look like Elvis, that sort of thing. And when he has to finally move on to speak to the fella standing next to me who is a retired Admiral, he turns back to me and said, ‘How much money did you say you raised?’ And I tell him, and again he shakes his head in disbelief. However because he’s spent so much time chatting to me, he can only exchange brief pleasantries with the Admiral before he’s moved on.

“Boy! Did that upset the Admiral? When the Prince left, he turned to me all tense and said in a clipped and angry voice, ‘You stole all my time!’ I said, ‘Pardon!’ And he said ‘I didn’t get to talk to the Prince property because you hogged his attention.’ To which I simply said, ‘I’m sorry, we’re just having a conversation. The Prince can talk to who he likes!’”

Keith added, “The Vicar later told me that when he got in the car, Queen Camilla who had just returned from the Royal Welsh to look at the cattle, was telling him excitedly about what herds she’d seen, and he replied, ‘That’s nothing. I’ve just met the King.”

This May, Keith will be hoping to once again converse with the monarch in the casual and easy-going manner only two Kings can.

Keith said with a mischievous grin, “If I’m lucky enough to meet him again, I’ll simply say, ‘Well done! You’ve finally made it. You’re on par with me now Your Majesty’”

Elvis has left the building!
(Elvis has left the building! Tindle News)