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Descendant of King Henry III prepares to take to Strictly Inverness dance floor

By Val Sweeney

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Strictly Inverness contestants Clare Macdonald and Craig Watson.
Strictly Inverness contestants Clare Macdonald and Craig Watson.

“I really struggle to sit down - I always have to be doing something,” the 45-year-old said.

So although she recently completed an intensive 18-month course to qualify as a midwife sonographer, she also found herself applying to take part in the annual dance contest which raises funds for the organisers and hosts, Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre.

Contestant’s dance journey for Highland Hospice guided by memories of courageous sister

“It was an intensive course and took a lot of my energy,” said Clare who lives in Kirkhill.

“I finished about six months ago and thought what what other challenge could there possibly be!”

And just a few weeks after completing her Strictly experience, she is set to take part in the gruelling 50-mile Highland Cross duathlon.

Just now, however, Clare is firmly focused on practising her moves in the rumba and street dance with dance partner Craig Watson as part of Team Friday as well as fundraising.

Her efforts are being supported by family and friends including husband Jawn, children Dylan (17), Maddison (15) and stepdaughter Finley MacDonald (21).

Intriguingly, family history research by her husband revealed she is the 26th great granddaughter of King Henry III via her father’s side of the family.

“I didn’t have a clue and it was so interesting to find out,” she said.

“But I suppose if you go back far enough, we are all intertwined.”

Growing up as part of an RAF family, she was always on the move and also developed a passion of travelling.

“Moving every couple of years was part of life,” she reflected.

“I didn’t know any different. It was hard to leave friendships but you made new friends.

“I think it turned me into the person I am.

“I am quite confident, outgoing and have good communication skills.”

Clare’s main reason for signing up to Strictly Inverness is that her father has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and although he is stable at the moment, the family may need the support of the Highland Hospice in the future.

She also has insight into Strictly as a supporter of previous participants from Kirkhill - Suzi Matheson MacDonald in 2019 and Kirkhill Church of Scotland minister Drew Kuzma last year - while a work colleague took part about eight years ago.

“I have been in the Strictly audience a few times and have always fancied participating,” she said.

“It’s always been on my radar.

“I suppose the overriding piece of advice I’ve been given is to enjoy it!”

Training has presented its challenges, given her work commitments while Craig, who lives in Aberdeen, is a patent attorney for his own firm, Cranach.

“We can only do our dancing at a weekend which means weekends are very busy,” she said.

Craig also pulled a calf muscle during a group dance session which resulted in him going to Raigmore Hospital and being on crutches for several days but training is now back on track.

Claire said the street dance is lyrical with a story behind it while the rumba, being a slow dance, means every movement can be seen.

“I am a bit apprehensive and trying not to think about dancing in front of about 600 people!,” she said.

She also remains focused on the aim of Strictly Inverness.

“It is about fundraising,” she said.

“That is the main goal.

“I think as a group we are close to exceeding what the group total was last year.

“I think most participants have been on their game with fundraising and we have all been good at supporting each other.

“It is amazing to see.”

Clare is organising a His & Hers Evening Delight fundraiser described as unlimited pudding indulgence at Kirkhill Community Centre on April 20 at 7.30pm.

“His” will be dessert and a dram while “Hers” is pudding and prosecco. An alcohol-free option is also available.

Friends of Clare’s are making puddings while Harry Gows Beauly shop is donating some cakes.

Tesco, the Co-op and Scotmid are also donating drink.

Tickets cost £15 each which includes two glasses of prosecco or two drams. Additional dram/prosecco vouchers are available at £4 each.

There will also be music and dancing.

Phone 07775 867 888 to obtain tickets.

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