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Cheltenham pensioner turns his car and home into American shrine

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: June 02, 2014

  • Cheltenham pensioner turns his car and home into American shrine

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Sprightly Cheltenham pensioner Ken Hanks is in a right State - after turning his car and home into a shrine to America.

Wacky Ken, 78, has covered his home and motor inside and out with memorabilia from the United States.

The OAP - who has changed his name through deed poll to 'Dancing Ken Hanks' because of his love of country and western music - has filled his terraced house with Americana.

His walls and shelves are covered with pictures, furniture and memorabilia from the US - including portraits of Presidents.

Ken has amassed an impressive collection of thousands of items after hoarding Yankee curios for more than 50 years.

His walls and floors are plastered with items such as Abraham Lincoln pictures, American guitars and flags.

He has even decorated the outside of his home in Cheltenham, Glos., and his Vauxhall car with pictures and murals of cowboy and rodeo stars.

Ken, who also dresses in a cowboy shirt, hat and boots, was once forced to buy a SECOND home to store it all when he ran out of room to hang things on the walls and ceiling.

He said: "It all began really when I first took an interest in music when I was just 14 or 15 I got into black gospel and blues from the 1920s.

"A lot of that came from America and I then got into New Orleans jazz.

"Then, one day I gate-crashed a country and western show and could see everybody dressed up and having a lot of fun.

"I thought I wanted a bit of that and I joined a Country and Western club and the rest is history, as they say."

Ken, born Kenneth Reginald Stephen Hanks, changed his name when he ran in the General Election as a Monster Raving Loony party candidate in the 1990s.

He once bought a second house to store his collectibles after his former wife got fed up with it cluttering their home.

"My wife at the time was not too keen my collection so I had a sudden rush of idea that I would buy another house to put my bits and pieces in," explained.

"My original idea was to make it into a mini museum, then when we split up I moved into it instead."

The entertainer is well known in his home town after setting up a number of country and western shows and dance events.

He said: "I'm 79 this year, I still jig around a bit but a I'm getting old I have to curtail my moves a bit.

"I just love it. I can't stop dancing really, I used to go out to various events seven nights a week but because of my age I've had to cut back to just five.

"I do shows and auctions for charity, anything I can to help raise a bit of money."

Ken regularly undertakes charity events and works tirelessly at raising funds through his Country and Western shows.

Since starting the live music nights, he has raised more than £1 million for charity.

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