YOU may have seen Don Balkwill dressed as an Italian, an ugly brother or cinderella but many people won't know the story behind the face. Reporter Hannah Mlatem met the Abergavenny man with an interesting story to tell.

HE has raised countless amounts of money for charity, performing and penning his own pantomimes and murder mysteries and is used to glitz and glamour.

However, the amateur playwright was brought up in the 50s through tough times in his spiritual home of Devon. His humble beginnings are what inspired him to begin telling his story and to provide a lasting memento for future generations to enjoy.

"Life was hard in those days and I wanted my grandchildren to read about how different it was when I was a youngster myself," says Don.

"I grew up in a tiny hamlet in a two roomed tin shack with no gas or electricity. They were built to shelter business peoples' families during the blitz."

Don's parents Donald and Phyllis lived in the cosy 'tin shack' with Don and his sister Justine for 11 years.

"We never realised how deprived we were - we were happy, and it was good but my grandchildren will never see or experience anything like that," this is what spurred Don to write 'Memories of Childhood.'

"I decided to write it down for my grandchildren. As a result of the success of my book I set up a website about the area of Shaugh Bridge. Loads of people contacted me with pictures and their memories about Shaugh and Dewerstone," said the 63-year-old.

The compiled memories and pictures form his latest book, The Book of Shaugh Parish, which is available online and in local stores.

Another side of Don's hectic life, a major part of it, he says, is his plays and murder mysteries.

Through his work he has raised money for countless charities. From his home in Coldbrook, Abergavenny he writes scripts, pantomimes and the famous murder mysteries.

However, rather than see the scripts, once performed, never used again, he decided to set up a website to make them available free of charge to other amateur groups to use as fundraisers.

Not only does he spend time behind the pen, or keyboard, he is a fan of performing and has taken on the role of the fairy God mother, Widow Twankey, a gay ugly brother for Cinderella and scary mobster characters.

His murder mysteries are very popular in and around the town with one of them 'The Butlitz School Outing Murder' was performed on a steam train from the Vale of Glamorgan Railway Company.

Don, father of Mark and Nicola and grandfather to Gemma, Kirsty and Josie, now plans to start another venture - and needs help from the public.

"I could do with some help from the people of Abergavenny for a new project called Grandma's Gadgets.

"I think about children and how they grow up today and how their gadgets are now mostly electronic. I got me thinking bak to all the gadgets I remember and I have some pictures of old gadgets which need recognising, what they were and what they were used for," he says.

To help Don identify gadgets of old, visit"> or call him on 01873 859017.