If you’ve been inspired by this year’s crop of celebrities taking to the dance floor each week on TV’s Strictly, now’s the time to dust off your dance shoes and sign up for The Hospice of St Francis’ very own version called Strictly Learn Dancing.
Over the course of six weeks, 20 couples will enjoy expert dance tution from professional dance teachers, Brian and Shirley from Baila-Cusworth Dance School in Hemel Hempstead, that will see them master dance moves from a lively Jive to a classic Waltz.
The challenge will culminate in the glittering Strictly Learn Dancing Grand Finale on Saturday 16th March at the Centenary Hall in Berkhamsted, where all the couples will showcase their fancy footwork in front of family and friends, and one couple will be crowned the 2018 Champion.
Mum of-three Emma Young, 40, from Hemel Hempstead, who is living with secondary breast cancer and has been supported by the Hospice for the past five years, has signed up to take part in order to polish her dance moves and also as a way of giving back to the Hospice for the care she and her family have received.
Emma, who has raised thousands of pounds for the Hospice since being diagnosed in 2014, said: “Everything I do for the Hospice is to pay it forward for the care the children and I will have to access in the future and to give back for the support we’ve all received.
“Until you have an illness where you need to access that kind of care you don’t fully appreciate what’s on offer and how important it can be. I always try to do what I can to support the Hospice to make sure those services I know we’ll need in the future will be there for me and my family.”
Emma, whose condition is currently stable, added: “I’m a massive Strictly Come Dancing fan and never miss a show so I’ve wanted to do the Hospice’s Strictly challenge for some time. I did a bit of ballroom dancing a few years ago and really enjoyed it but I haven’t danced much since.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out there and doing something a bit different. It’s a way of giving back and hopefully having some fun.”
Janine Dines, 58, a fitness instructor from Tring, is a Strictly Learn Dancing superfan having taken part every competition since it was launched in 2010.
Taking part for the sixth time, Janine said: “It’s such a fun way to raise money for the Hospice. It’s not about winning but the entertainment value, meeting new peope and raising money for a good cause. What’s fantastic about it is that everyone is in the same boat and everyone really supports each other.”
Janine, who got together with her partner Richard Carter-Savigear after he offered to be her dance partner in 2013, added: “I like to do what I can for the Hospice as they were very supportive of me when my husband died. This year I’m taking part in memory of my friend Maria Miller who was cared for by the Hospice earlier this year.”
Dance lessons will start on Thusday 31st January and all couples must be available for six weekly 90 minute lessons. There is a registration fee of £25 and each couple is asked to raise a minimum of £600 sponsorship.
All the money raised will go towards the £5million the Hospice needs each year to continue to help people across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire to live their precious lives well.
Lauren Parker, Event Fundraiser at the Hospice, said: “If you’ve been watching the celebrities from your comfort of your sofa but have been itching to get on the dancefloor yourself, now is your chance! Strictly Learn Dancing is the perfect opportunity to do something completely different.
“You don’t have to be an expert on the dancefloor. It’s all about having fun, learning a new skill, meeting new people and raising much needed funds for a local cause. So if you’ve been inspired by the celebrities on TV, come and have a go yourself.”
To secure your place visit www.stfrancis.org.uk/strictly and apply by Friday 11th January.