Popular Elvis impersonator shakes things up with huge online show for Burnley charity

Elvis may not have left the building this Easter – but he still managed to raise an incredible £4,000 for the Barry Kilby Prostate Cancer Appeal.

Forget the bright lights of Vegas, Andy Brown's kitchen was the place to be this Good Friday as he entertained thousands of isolating viewers with a live Facebook charity gig.

And while there may have been a little less conversation at this gig compared to his usual outings, that didn't stop grateful music lovers from generously donating to a charity close to Andy's heart.

The renowned tribute artist had been scheduled to perform at the BKPCA Turf Moor charity night earlier this month.

Andy Brown as Elvis, live from his kitchen

Andy's dad, David, was diagnosed with prostate cancer after one of the charity's testing days last year flagged up a high PSA reading. This gig was his way of saying 'thank you'.

The fundraising night had been organised by the team behind the 'Béné to Burnley Bike Ride'. which was set to see 40 intrepid cyclists cycle more than 300 miles from the home of Bénédictine in France back to Turf Moor next month.

All money raised from this and the charity night was due to go to BKPCA.

With both events cancelled, it came down to Elvis and friends to show us that home is where the heart is.

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Andy Bannister performing in his garden

"We decided to go for Good Friday because of the popularity of Belvedere," said Andy, whose Good Friday gigs at Belvedere Sports Club are a calendar highlight. "So Tuesday night we put it out on Facebook what we were doing

"It got a lot of likes and people saying they were looking forward to it. It was meant to be an event to give everyone a morale boost and we then found the donation button on Facebook to link it back the BK charity

"The jungle drums were playing loudly all around the town as the week went on, but I thought we’d raise about £500 each with around 100 watching.

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"Then on Thursday night I got a message from Neil Sledding, who has a big following on social media, and he said ‘everyone he knew was tuning in’. I started to get quite nervous."

The live stream amassed more than 8,000 views, with viewers tuning in from Luxembourg, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Australia, UAE, Norway, Canada and Afghanistan.

By the end of his one-hour performance, a total of 267 people had donated, raising more than £3,900.

Andy added: "I was worried I’d fail with the technology so I gave each member of my family a job to do, checking on the camera, sound and writing down comments as they came through

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"I set up the kitchen/dining area with an Elvis theme and then waited. During the afternoon I was inundated with friend requests and queries on how to log on to watch. I then thought this could get a lot of views. I still never thought we would raise much money

"Once I started the gig and the girls were shouting out the numbers watching and the amount raised, I was taken aback. It was unbelievable, but I just focused on the performance.

"I then quickly realised that it would be good to get as many shout outs to people as possible to get audience participation. It was impossible to mention everyone and the messages moved quickly up the phone so the girls had to be quick readers

"Notable people who tuned in included Mr and Mrs Kilby were dancing around their kitchen, and James Anderson’s name went up the screen at one point

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"There were so many messages of support telling me what a positive impact it had on everyone’s weekend, as well as the amount raised.

"Unfortunately I haven’t been able to thank everyone as I broke my phone later in the evening."

The lockdown lock-in did not end there either.

Singer-guitarist Andy Bannister, who had also been due to play at the fundraising night, followed 'Elvis' with his own virtual gig – raising an extra £1,339 for BKPCA.

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"I have known Andy Brown for many years and it was disappointing for both of us the charity night at Burnley FC got postponed," said Andy. "We would have been happy if we'd raised couple hundred quid for the the Barry Kilby trust, so were both gobsmacked when over £5,000 came in for the two gigs.

"To be honest it was more stressful than planning a normal live gig, with the worry everything would come across ok on social media. But both went well and everyone seemed to have a great night. I had friends and colleagues dial in from around the world so this opened it up to many more people than normal as we both usually just play locally.

"I really enjoyed it and was glad to help a great cause. Already had requests asking when's the next one...so watch this space."

Collectively, the pair raised £5,245 for BKPCA with the two shows amassing more than 10,000 views.

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Burnley FC vice-chairman Barry Kilby said he was blown away by the amount raised.

“We heard that the charity fundraiser, which was a complete sell-out at Turf Moor had been postponed; however when we found out the performances was going out live on Good Friday, myself and Mrs Kilby simply had to tune in.

"We were not disappointed. Both events were excellent, and we were singing along from the confines of our kitchen.

"It was lovely to see the comments and donations flooding in during both performances. We were absolutely blown away at the amounts raised on the night. Rest assured this money will save lives in East Lancashire. BKPCA runs testing days where typically up to 10% of those tested need some form of further treatment.

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"Thanks once again for a great night."

Darren Smith, one of the cyclists and organisers of the 'Béné to Burnley Bike Ride', said: "I’d just like to say a massive thanks to the two Andys, we all know how good they are and their efforts have raised the equivalent of 10 cyclists.

"Also thanks to all the supporters for donations in our his difficult time £5,200 is an incredible amount of money. Please watch this space when we do finally have our BKPCA night at the Turf, It's going to be a night to remember."

Chris Gibson, another of the ride organisers, added: “As a group of cycling fundraisers we were looking forward immensely to both the 'Ride from Benedictine to Burnley' and the Elvis fundraising night, both of which had to be postponed due to the the current crisis we are all facing.

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"When it was suggested that the two acts from the charity night were to perform a “lockdown” show, it was obviously a no-brainer, however in reality it was unbelievable. Hundreds of people watching and thousands being donated live on the night was both a testament to the artist's ability and also how generous the public were.

"I am sure I speak for all the cyclists when I say it was a great boost at a difficult time and makes us even more determined to undertake both the live charity event and the cycle from Benedictine to Burnley when the conditions allow."