|ELVIS CLUB IS LEAVING THE CITY AFTER 30 YEARS
November 14, 2015 - Oxford Mail / Elvis Express Radio
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ELVIS fans will dust off their blue suede shoes for their final fundraiser today. But instead of dropping by the Heartbreak Hotel, members of the Oxford branch of the Elvis Presley
Fan Club of Great Britain will be making their swan song at the Oxford Sports and Social Club.
Today will bring to an end more than 30 years of fundraising by the fan club’s dedicated members, who have collected more than £85,000 for good causes.
It comes as the Roman Way sports and social club prepares to close next April when BMW takes back the 24-acre Cowley site.
Branch leader Jenny de Fraine said: “It’s very sad. I have made a lot of friends in the Elvis world over the years but I’m incredibly proud of what we have done as a group.
“It’s simply because we are losing our venue. It seemed to bring about a natural end for us.
“I think the time has come to say we have done well but we are bowing out with our heads held high.
“Elvis would be absolutely thrilled to bits.”
Mrs de Fraine said she was inspired to launch the Oxford branch of the fan club in 1977, just days after Presley’s death on August 16.
She was left surprised after finding nothing had been organised in Oxfordshire to mark The King’s death and called BBC Radio Oxford during its special programme about the star.
Grandmother-of-two Mrs de Fraine said the radio station’s lines were jammed after she told listeners she wanted to plan an event in tribute to Presley and a memorial service was
held five days later at St John the Evangelist Church in Iffley Road.
Guests donated about £50 during the service, which encouraged Mrs de Fraine to organise a fundraiser to buy £600-worth of equipment for the Radcliffe Infirmary.
The 68-year-old, whose favourite Presley tune is An American Trilogy, added: “From there it just spiralled. We just carried on raising money.”
Members have since gathered at venues across the city on the first Sunday of every month to share their love for the American musician and actor.
More than £30,000 has been donated to East Oxford’s Helen and Douglas House, as well as thousands of pounds-worth of gifts for its children and youths.
The fan club has also marked the end of the year with a fundraising bash for the Magdalen Road hospice at the Cowley club for the past 30 years.
Mrs de Fraine said she recalls fondly first hearing an Elvis tune and seeing him on the big screen in Love Me Tender.
The Kennington resident added: “It was the fact that he had this amazing voice. If you love Elvis, he is always there, he is part of your life.”
Tickets for Elvis Is Leaving The Building in the Empress Ballroom, between 8pm and midnight, are £9.50.
Fans will celebrate throughout the night with a raffle and performances of The King’s songs.