A TRIBUTE TO OUR ELVIS

by For Fleet's Sake

David Robert Hurrell (aka Dale Fontaine aka Dave the Plumber aka Elvis!), has been a familiar face in the local area for many years, singing Elvis classics and bringing his songs to a whole new generation with a cheeky smile and a twinkle in his eye. Apart from his singing, Dave is best known for the amazing work he has done for so many charities over the years, tirelessly performing in many different locations, while donating any profits to good causes.

In 2018 Dave was diagnosed with colon cancer but true to form he came back fighting and carried on with his charity shows all the way through 2019. At the beginning of the year, Dave contracted a serious chest infection and shortly afterwards lockdown was announced, putting an immediate halt to all upcoming gigs, including Dave’s 80th birthday celebrations. Since then, Dave has been told he has inoperable pancreatic cancer…but even that can’t stop him raising funds for charity as he and his wife Dee have set up Just Giving pages to raise funds for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice care and Frimley Health Charity.

But let’s hear from Dave in his own words…

“Hi Dave Hurrell here also known as Dale Fontaine and for over 60 years I’ve been singing the songs of the 50s and 60s, mainly those of Elvis Presley. I never became a superstar, had fast cars or large houses. But I can say I made people happy and raised thousands of pounds for charities.

In the 1990s I had my 15 minutes of fame when I was written into a Meridian T.V. Series called The Village, a fly on the wall story of a real life village called Bentley. I played myself “Dave the Plumber” – this helped my charity shows and any monies I could of received went straight to various things in and around Bentley.

Over the years my family have been my greatest fans, especially my Mum. She was 97 when she surrendered to Alzheimer’s in April 2011. Later that year I decided to set up a charity to raise funds for The Alzheimer’s Society in return for the support to Mum and my family. I was around 70 when mum passed away and whenever she was with it she would say “It’s about time you gave up all that jumping about on stage”. And so I put all these together and decided to do one more show for Mum, so we hired (with the help of sponsors) Princes Hall and I formed The T.C.C Band (the taking care of charity) from guys and gals I had known or worked with over many years and we did the show, leaving the front row seat for my Mum!

Now we are 10 years later and The T.C.C Band are still going strong and raising money for charities. These 10 years have been full of ups and downs we’ve had a few changes in the band due to health and personal reasons but we still have a strong squad and never stopped raising money to help various charities.

Then in 2018 I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer but because of the skill and care of Col Edwards and his team at Frimley park Colorectal Department I survived and went back to do more shows and raise more funds for charity through 2019.

But then came 2020 The Pandemic and Coronavirus . I went down with a serious chest infection and days after that we all went in lockdown. All our gigs were postponed to 2021 . Even the Celebration for my 80th birthday was transferred to 2021. But this is now going to be almost impossible as I have been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer which is Terminal. They say “Cancer has its way of winning, you get rid of it for a while and it comes back with a vengeance and bites you on the bum!” Well that life!

I would like to thank everybody for their support over the many years. Support of all our sponsors and most of all the support and help that the Minister and North Camp Methodist Church Family have given us. Even the non church goers amongst us. It’s almost certain that Dale Fontaine Shows with me as frontman are now to be few if any. So I will say “Thank you”. Thank you very much for being loyal friends, family and colleagues. God bless!”

“As we probably won’t be able to do any shows for charity in 2021, Dee myself and the T.C.C Band have set up two Charities for you all to support. They are – Frimley Park and Phyllis Tuckwell (links below)

God bless and you’ll not only be honouring Dale Fontaine but you may be helping yourself or somebody dear to you in the future.”

THE NOBLEST ART IS MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY AND I HOPE I’VE DONE THAT ALL MY LIFE – WELL I TRIED!

Dave Hurrell

Dale Fontaine

Dave The Plumber

Phyllis Tuckwell Fundraiser

Frimley Health Hospital Fundraiser

Feel free to share these pages.

Even lockdown and poor health couldn’t dampen Dave’s spirits, as he treated his fans to some songs from home in the local Lockdown Video Diaries.

DAVE THE PLUMBER

In 1993 a new TV show appeared on our screens called The Village, which was to run until 2001. The series focused on villagers who lived in the town of Bentley and featured a chap that has rather a familiar face…to become known as “Dave the Plumber”.

Dave and his (then soon-to-be) wife Denise (Dee), appeared in many episodes,  which amongst other things, saw him land a record deal and get married on screen! If you’ve never seen the series, here’s a treat for you as we watch Dave and Dee tying the knot!

In 2001 Dave nabbed his first record contract with the release of 3 songs:

1. We’ll Still Sing Rule Britannia
A patriotic country/MOR ballad extolling the virtue of traditional British life and countryside and warning of the dangers of being taken over by “Europe”

2. Peggy Sue’s A Granny Now
A Buddy Holly inspired 50’s Rock & Roll number about a girl who grew up with the Rock & Roll greats and still has a twinkle in her eyes today!

3. Touch Of Gold
A Rock ballad dedicated to the Greatest – Elvis

The songs were released by Solent Records and were available on CD and cassette.

SOUND CLIPS

Click below to hear samples of each track!

Want more? Click here and you can get the lyrics too!

THE ENTERTAINER WITH THE BIG HEART

Dave may love his singing but he also loves helping those in need and is always willing to step up and help people, as described here by his friend Ruth Tipping:

Ruth Tipping

“I met Dave at North Camp Methodist Church when I was 26 (a few years ago) we very quickly got talking about charity work and raising money for worthy causes. I myself have complex heart problems and told him of my desire to do a heart matters fund raiser. Within 10 minutes he had a concert booked in honour of the British heart foundation!

When I was struggling with my mobility, Dave asked me what mobility scooter would help me, I told him and a few weeks later that scooter arrived at church for me! He did a fundraiser to purchase the scooter without hesitating, without anyone asking him to. He is a selfless, brilliant man who champions causes close to his heart and the hearts of those he loves.

Dave and Dee are one in a million and words are not enough to express how grateful I am to have them in my life!”

Dave and Dee are big supporters of the Phyllis Tuckwell charity and have raised funds for them over a period of many years.

Pictured below: Dave singing with his band supporting Phyllis Tuckwell and Dave and his wife Dee handing over a cheque for £500 that they raised for them: Photos: Phyllis Tuckwell.

FRIENDS OF ELVIS

If there’s one thing that’s obvious, it’s the love and respect that so many have for Dave and Dee.  There can’t be many people locally that haven’t caught a performance, seen Dave at the Christmas Festivities in Fleet, or heard about his charity work. There are certainly more than a few who have shared that mischievous sense of humour and benefitted from their support along the way, as told by just some of their friends:

Linda Kannemeyer – Friend

“We have known Dave for 50 years and during this time he has always been involved in fund raising. In 1977 the parents in the village school started putting on cabarets to fund raise (the forerunner of Crondall Entertainers).

One of the funniest things we saw involving Dave was when he put on his version of “This Is Your Life” in the village hall to celebrate his 40th birthday. He began the show by coming on stage in a nappy. It was so unexpected that the whole room exploded in laughter. Sadly we did not have a photo. No-one had a mobile phone in those days!”

Bobbie Englefield – Manger of OFLAC

“Dave, Elvis as we all fondly know him, has always supported and performed for our club OFLAC (Oak Farm Leisure and Activities Club). We have shared some amazing evenings and events with Elvis… Sharing the microphone for duets and group singalongs. We all have such great memories of the fun times we shared with Dee and Dave and all the events they attended and supported including shows, garden parties and Xmas fares. We loved seeing him performing at the annual Hawley Fayre and the appearances at many events held in Fleet High Street.

Dave has always been so very generous with his time and energy in supporting adults with a learning disability and everyone involved with the clubs. He is a great friend held very dear in our hearts and we feel so very lucky and blessed to have shared so many wonderful times with him. We all hold many cherished memories of our very special celebrity….. ELVIS!”

Tracey Vincent – Friend

“Dave is the nicest, most genuine man you could meet.  My late grandmother and my mum used to always look forward to his visits at their “overs” club in Fleet. He got all the members singing and dancing, I remember my Nan saying if she hadn’t had a bad hip she would have joined in!  All the ladies got a twinkle in their eye and loved getting a signed photo of Dale Fontaine. He is loved by many in his hometown of Crondall and I’m lucky to call him and his wife Dee, wonderful neighbours and great friends.”

Nigel Worsfold – Drummer

“I’ve been playing my drums with Dave for almost 50 years on and off.  I’m 65 now, but when I was about 17 I auditioned for his rock ‘n’ roll band, called “Just Four”. The audition took place in the back room of an off licence in Netley Street, Farnborough.  Dave and the other guys in the band were around twice my age. The first song we played in the off licence that fateful night was Elvis’s “Burning Love”. I’d never played it before.  I got the job. We played songs by Elvis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and others from that wonderful era. In the case of many of those iconic songs, I played them hundreds of times with the band before I’d ever heard the originals! My years with that particular band effectively shaped the main part of my musical taste in later life. I’ve loved Elvis’s music ever since, and in fact I’ve visited Graceland three times.  

Dave never claimed to copy Elvis, but instead I believe he wanted to bring Elvis’s wonderful music to fresh audiences as well as long-time fans, again and again. In that objective he was massively successful. I have a lot to be grateful to David Robert Hurrell for. With great admiration, I acknowledge the enormous sums he’s raised for charity over the years. I’ll close this with the words I would say to him every time we parted, at the end of yet another evening on stage…..I’ll say goodnight!”

Martin Perkins (aka Perkstar 662) – Friend

“Last year –  2019 –  Dave’s little tour bus he used to take his equipment to gigs with, failed its MOT, so was destined for the scrap yard, I bought it and the lil thing went out in a blaze of glory! I raced it in the world of banger racing, at Aldershot stadium. It was a flyer, winning its first race, followed by a 2nd and a 3rd in the final. I took the trophy along to a gig in May to show him!”

June Messenger – The June White Academy of Dance and Drama.

“Dave has put on some wonderful gigs, I have fond memories of Dancing to his music at the Crookham Social club. He also played at Crondall Village Hall. I provided backing dancers – he was very proud as his Granddaughter, who was one of my pupils, appeared and danced on stage with him! He is a great entertainer and a lovely man.”

David Betts – Drummer

“Dave Hurrell loves “The King”. Dave loves his songs; Dave also loves to sing his songs. Dave’s life also reflects “The King”, you look at Dave and you can see The King and he will always acknowledge the part he plays in all of his achievements.  And finally Dave, as we all know is pretty keen on Elvis too……Oh, I am sorry did you think I was talking about Elvis already?! No not at all……Let me explain…

You see Dave has two kings in his life….Obviously Elvis Presley, that goes without saying. But for Dave there is another king that he lives for. You see Dave is a Christian and so for Dave there is also King Jesus. It is Elvis that most people “see” when they look at Dave but King Jesus (the king of all kings) is who Dave seeks to emulate. This king Jesus is behind all that Dave does. It is king Jesus that is behind all of Dave’s charity work, it is king Jesus who is behind of the hours of setting up microphones and PA equipment, it is king Jesus is who behind the fundraising Dave carries out for his church and the many other charities Dave supports. It is King Jesus that drives Dave to go the extra mile, to sing the extra song, to put on the extra gig.

It has been an honour to “watch Dave’s back” over the years (literally, as I am one of his drummers!).”

Below: Dave performing at North Camp Methodist Church in 2015.

Jacqueline Hills – Singer

“My name is Jacqueline Hills.  About ten years ago, Dave came up to me and said how do you feel about being my Kathy Westmoreland?? I looked a bit blank to start with but then he explained that Kathy was Elvis’s operatic backing singer that did all the high notes in many Elvis classics like in the Ghetto and the Hawaiian Wedding Song. Well, I didn’t have to be asked twice! and before long I was part of the TCC band singing alongside Lisa Fletcher. We were the first two singers that backed Dave at this time and what fun we had.

It was a great privilege to be part of the band who have so much musical talent – I have loved each and everyone of them and every moment of performing with them as well.

My husband Julian Fletcher, who has supported myself and the TCC Band throughout this time, came along and helped with filming, recording and making the auto cue work properly which was quite a feat sometimes!!

In 2016, Julian and I got married, and because the TCC band are like our extended family, this was a truly magical event. The band all attended our two-part wedding, they also played at the party, Lisa Fletcher, Alison Bore and Dee Hurrell were bridesmaids and Dave gave me away – Twice!!!! 

We had a traditional wedding service at Aldershot Registry Office where Dave sang the Hawaiian Wedding song for me (one of my favourites) and then a Handfasting Ceremony the following Saturday – a truly TCC family affair – great fun was had by all!!!

Julian and I have always thought of Dave & Dee and the TCC band as extended family and this still continues. The generosity of spirit that Dave and Dee have, in putting in all the hard work to make all the concerts and appearances happen, which leads to the great fund raising for all the charities that have been supported, is amazing and we love them dearly.

A few weeks ago, we all got together in North Camp Methodist Church (our rehearsal venue) and were able to sing together again which was so special.  We were all able to sneak out of lock down and play and sing once more just for the joy of it. It was a blessing to have Dave with us who was looking really sharp in his silver/grey suit and singing like an angel!!  It was a truly emotional affair.  The TCC Band, the Sweet Nuthin’s et al, we all created this wonderful memory together – never to be forgotten.”

Below: Photos of the wedding along with the set from one of the TCC bands Christmas gigs.

Shirlee Gibbs

“This is one of Dave’s many suits I have had the privilege to make for him. He left this with me to alter as he was loosing weight and was worried he might show more than his good nature!

He has always been the utmost professional and his dedication to charity and his admiration for Elvis has brought so much pleasure and financial support to all those who needed it. I am glad he picked me to make his stage wear, it’s been great fun I have made friends in both him and Dee two lovely people.”

Loise – Singer

“For a long time, I didn’t know Dave’s real name. I knew he sang Elvis songs so I just called him Elvis, and he looked like Elvis to me!  Anyway, someone eventually blurted out something about Dave, that is when I knew his real name!!  Still I prefer to call him Elvis!

I sing with Elvis and am one of the “Sweet Nuthins!” Ask Elvis why he choose that name because nothing comes to mind 😁  Anyway the only reason I joined the band, was because he persisted, he said I would enjoy it, he was right!  You see, I had stopped singing…something that I always enjoyed in life…and because of him, I reconnected with my love for music, for that I am grateful to him.  Thanks Elvis!”

Robin Pearce – Friend

“I first met Dave in 1961 at the Plaza Dance Hall in Newbury. I was working as a bouncer and Dave was singing on the bill as Dale Fontaine. He performed alongside artists such as Mike Sarne, Dave Berry, Screaming Lord Sutch, P J Proby, Johnny Kid & The Pirates and Shane Fenton. To mention just a few of the famous groups of the 60s.

Moving on to 1986 I took charge of a public house called “The Castle” in the village of Crondall. Playing the juke box one day and chatting to customers I happened to remark how much I liked Rock and Roll. One of them said there was a singer in the village called Dave Hurrell who performed as Dale Fontaine. I realised this was the same man I had seen in the Plaza all those years before, so I asked the customer to ask him to come and see me at the pub.

So the journey began! We had lots of catching up to do and Dave told me how he did a lot of charity work and shows in the village and often held shows in the Village Hall next door to the pub. I invited him to perform regularly in my pub and suggested he might get his old group back together.

We started a 1001 charity club with Dave at the helm and he invited Dave Sutch (Screaming Lord Sutch), to host an evening but of course we had to build a stage which we did out of pallets!  Dave also performed in other halls and pubs and I would tag along helping with equipment etc –  a bit of a roadie !!  We had some good times together – one that springs to mind is the time we were coming back one night with me definitely the worse for wear I tried to unlock the gate but failed miserably so decided to climb over it. Dave had other ideas and suddenly I found myself hanging on to a gate swinging open – needless to say neither of us could stop laughing!

Dave has done so many things for charity in the pub over the years with Dee by his side that he decided to start a solo career singing as Echoes of Elvis. Dave WAS Elvis with such a lovely voice. He has even called his house “Little Graceland”.

The time came when I was moving from The Castle to a pub in Somerset called “The Golden Fleece”. Before I went, I towed an old caravan down to Little Graceland, unhooked it from my van and it rolled down the driveway by itself. We couldn’t stop it and we couldn’t stop laughing either,  it came to rest  where it sits now 29 years later as Dave’s recording studio.

While I was at The Golden Fleece, Dave became involved with a TV show called The Village filmed in Bentley and Crondall, he became known as “Dave the Plumber”. We had always kept in touch – in fact he used to put on shows in my pub in Somerset and whilst filming The Village Dave asked me to be his best man at his marriage to Dee. This was such an honour to be asked and to share their special moment all of which was televised.

Dave and Dee have also been to visit me in Wales, where I now live. He had been doing a charity show in Llanwrtyd Wells. The pub he performed in there has connections with Screaming Lord Sutch and of course Dave Sutch was an old friend of Dave’s so I joined them there for the show.

I have so many stories of the happy times we have had. Dave has been such an influence in my life so when I decided to open a shop selling music especially vinyl records it had to be named “Rockin Robin Records” which has been Dave’s nickname for me for years.

So Dave we are still sharing music together after all these year – Long may it continue! Happy Days – Special Memories.”

Tina and Steve – Friends

“We’ve seen Dave perform in various locations over the years and were always struck by how much he made people of all ages smile and dance along. It’s a rare performer that can appeal to different generations and no matter what he sang, or where he was at the time, he just made people happy with a cheeky smile and the familiar twinkle in his eye. We saw him perform at Velmead/Zebon Copse Community centre one time and was having a fine time jiggling around and dancing, so much so that we made him giggle on stage (sorry about that!).

Dave has also been the main reason for attending Fleet’s Christmas Festivities for us and we spent most of the evenings listening to him sing while balancing a free glass of wine or two and a mince pie, outside his familiar Waitrose location. This usually involved battling everyone walking past as we tried to have a little dance (it was nice to see him on a bigger stage last year!). Dave and Dee are just genuinely lovely people and you don’t get many of those nowadays! If there was one strange moment that sticks out, it has to be the signed aubergine (you’ll have to read the article to see that one!)”

ELVIS IN FLEET

There may not be any Christmas celebrations in Fleet in 2020 sadly but last year Dave was the star of the show in the Christmas Festivities. In fact Dave’s Elvis performance was so popular, he was brought back again in January! If you’d like to read up on past articles and to relive the performances from the Christmas and New Year shows, have a click through the articles below and if you want a little taster then here’s the man himself performing “I Just Can’t Help Believing” in the Hart Centre – Christmas 2019.

Below: Articles featuring Dave!

Remember, please help if you can and donate even a few quid to Dave’s chosen causes for this Christmas, remember those links again are:

Phyllis Tuckwell Fundraiser

Frimley Health Hospital Fundraiser

Share those links, share this article and let’s see how much we can help raise!

Happy Christmas Elvis! x

ADD YOUR ELVIS COMMENTS!

Do you have a funny story, a happy memory or a comment to add about our very own Elvis? Comment below!

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