A Redbourn widow is dusting off her dance shoes and joining nine other couples to take part in a charity dance competition to fulfil a promise to her late husband and raise funds for The Hospice of St Francis, which cared for him.
Pauline King, 74, from Holtsmere End Lane, is half way through rehearsals for the Hospice’s glittering Strictly Learn Dancing Challenge, enjoying six weeks of expert dance tuition from professional dance teachers, Brian & Shirley from Baila-Cusworth Dance School, learning the jive and the waltz.
“My husband David and I had promised we’d treat each other to dance classes as a Christmas present but sadly his lung cancer progressed and he was just too tired to manage it so I desperately wanted to do this in his memory,” explained Pauline.
“David spent the last three weeks of his life at the Hospice before he died, aged 79, last September. It’s hard to put into words how wonderful the care was. Nothing was too much trouble, everyone from the doctors to the volunteers was jolly and happy, which made him happy as well and after he died, I had one-one counselling which I didn’t realise I needed but which was excellent.”
Luckily, the grandmother-of-five didn’t have to look far for a partner. “I’ve played with a ukulele band -The Ol’ Packers - for the last four years,” she explained. “We practise every week at my home so the band has been a big part of David and my lives – we even played at his funeral – so the minute I mentioned that I wanted to do it, my fellow band member Ken Hart, who also lives in Redbourn, volunteered.
“We’re loving the dancing and David would have loved that I’m doing it! We’ve done nothing like it before so it’s quite hard putting all the sections and steps together, but we have such a laugh and we’re really excited and nervous at the thought of performing everything we’ve learned in front of our families and friends.
“My 10-year-old twin granddaughters keep saying ‘You have to win Grandma!’ so no pressure! I keep having to remind them it’s the taking part that counts!”
Pauline, Ken and their fellow dance couples’ endeavours will culminate in the glittering Strictly Learn Dancing Grand Finale on Saturday 16 March at the Centenary Hall, Berkhamsted, where couples will dress up and showcase their choreographed moves in front of family and friends, with one couple being crowned the 2019 champions.
The Hospice is the only one in the area that provides 24/7 inpatient care to people living with life-limiting illnesses in the St Albans and Harpenden area and relies on voluntary donations for 87% of its over £5m annual running costs.
“I had no idea the Hospice relies so heavily on voluntary donations to provide its free care and so this is my way of giving something back,” added Pauline, who has recently set up a Just Giving page, sold 22 tickets to the Grand Finale and her local Redbourn pub, The Cricketers, has agreed to host a quiz night for The Hospice of St Francis alongside her other fundraising efforts. To donate to Pauline’s Just Giving page visit and help her reach her £300 fundraising target, visithttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/pauline-king3
Hannah Northing, Community Fundraiser, commented, “They are such a lovely group. They’re picking up the dance moves really well and it promises to be a great finale!”
If you’d like to come and cheer on the couples on 16th March, contact Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets, priced £15 each or call 01442 869555.
To find out more about the Hospice, visit stfrancis.org.uk or follow the charity on Twitter @hospicstfrancis or Facebook facebook.com/thehospiceofstfrancis