Elvis left Belfast all shook up

Evesham Journal: (4254819) (4254819)

THE people of Belfast were all shook up when they were visited by a Vale vicar who crossed a so-called peace line to promote joy and reconciliation.

Reverend Andy Kelso, an Elvis Presley gospel tribute act, spent two days in the city last weekend to unite Catholics and protestants who share a common link - their love of 'The King'.

He was asked to visit the city by Jack Lamb, minister of the Townsend Street Presbyterian Church, just off the Shankill Road, who had heard about his tribute act and thought he was the perfect choice for the peace walk.

The 66-year-old, of Throckmorton, captured people's imaginations as he walked along the peace line - tall barriers separating Irish nationalist and unionist neighbourhoods - in a striking white jumpsuit with his 100-year-old teddy, Fitzroy.

"I was amazing. It's like the place needs joy with all the troubles," he said. "I was a little bit daunted you know what's going to happen but it was very moving. I was trying to bring some hope and joy and peace."

Rev Kelso caused quite a stir as he walked from the Falls Road - one of the city's best known republican areas - through to the Shankill Road, a strongly unionist part of west Belfast stopping off along the way to sing outside public libraries and speak to locals.

He then went to a number of shops including the Tourist Information Centre and handed out leaflets to promote a fundraising concert taking place in Belfast on Saturday, April 5.

The concert, which is being held in the 1,000-seater Townsend Street Presbyterian Church, is to raise money for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.

Rev Kelso said he is hoping the concert will bring together Catholics and Protestants.

"Because of their love of Elvis we're hoping this will become a real opportunity to bring a lot of them together, " he said. "Who knows, we could do it.

"I will be singing the best of Elvis and will just share a bit of Elvis' life and his spiritual journey and how it links to my own. People have a great night but also get a little food for thought.

"If that food for thought can change lives a little bit I will have done well."

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