HELP for Heroes is being given a boost – by the King.
Elvis tribute act Craig Smith, also known by his stage name Craig Memphis King, is organising a gig at Theatr Twm o’r Nant, Denbigh, on Friday, August 2, to raise cash to support soldiers wounded in the line of duty.
Craig, aged 41, will be joined by the number one Elvis tribute act in Wales, Dean Mack.
Former soldier Craig chose the charity Help for Heroes as he served with the Royal Engineers on a peacekeeping tour of Bosnia.
He said: “I saw mass graves. Because of the ethnic cleansing there were bodies everywhere. Whole towns were wiped out and turned into ghost towns.
“People who haven’t seen it have no idea what the British Army do.
“The lads that do it don’t get appreciated. They go through hell. I’ve got a lot of mates who are out in Afghanistan now.”
Craig joined the Army in 1988 and trained at Aldershot Garrison before being posted to Germany for five years.
His eighteen-year-old son Aaron Smith is now training at the same place with the same regiment.
In December 1997 Craig was sent to Bosnia as part of a NATO peacekeeping force following the war.
He said: “I was sent to Bosnia on Boxing Day. What a day to go. We went there when the ceasefire was announced.
“We were shot at by Serbs in the hills, but we couldn’t see them. It was tough because they knew the territory and we didn’t.
“I saw mutilated dead bodies day after day. I went into houses and saw dead families sat round the dinner table. Someone had gone in and shot them.
Craig left Bosnia on June 28 1997.
He said: “For nine months I was just a wreck after I came back home on leave. I would just sit at home and I would sit on the end of my bed just crying.
“Things like seeing a mass grave full of kids. It finished my career. People didn’t understand what was wrong.”
In 2007, Craig organised an Elvis show for Prestatyn Golf Club’s Christmas do.
Craig said: “It felt amazing. There are no words to describe it. The audience reaction
Craig is now a full-time Elvis tribute act, and jets off all over the world to perform, from Portugal to Dubai, and even to Elvis’ home town of Memphis.
Craig said this has given him a new lease of life.
He said: “Me and my wife Alison are planning to go back to Bosnia soon to put some ghosts to rest.
“Raising the money is important but it’s also about creating awareness. These guys are out there putting their lives on the line every day.”
Craig is hoping to raise £1,000 for Help the Heroes through this gig.
There will be a free mini bus for anyone wishing to travel from the Theatr Twm o’r Nant to the Trefnant Arms where the after party is being held.
Tickets cost 39 and can be obtained in City News in St Asaph.
See full story in the Free Press