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Strictly Inverness dancer to finally complete dad's dying wish

By Andrew Dixon

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Calum Macleod and Jenna Christie.
Calum Macleod and Jenna Christie.

A Strictly Inverness dancer has got her fundraising campaign off to flying start – with donations generated around four years ago in memory of her dad.

Jenna Christie was originally set to take to the dancefloor in the annual charity contest in May 2020 but the pandemic put a stop to that.

The 37-year-old was urged to put herself forward for the area's answer to the mega-popular TV series by her dad Calum Macleod, while he was a patient at the Highland Hospice in Inverness.

"My dad sadly passed away from stomach and liver cancer in the hospice in October 2019," said Jenna, of Inverness. "While a patient there he encouraged me to apply for Strictly – then I'm sure got the staff to take him round to the fundraising offices in the building and hassle the staff to pick me!

"So I got accepted to take part in 2020, but my dad sadly passed away before knowing I had got in.

"As we know, 2020 went to pot with Covid and Strictly sadly had to be cancelled."

Jenna Christie and family visiting some alpacas.
Jenna Christie and family visiting some alpacas.

Prior to that, dancers had already started generating cash for organisers and hosts, the hospice and Inverness Ice Centre. She collected more than £2800 by holding a memorial race night at her dad's local, Dows in Inverness, and having collections at Tesco Ness-side and Tesco Extra at Inverness Shopping Park, where he worked prior to his diagnosis.

Now these donations are part of her contribution towards this year's efforts – as well as those of 31 other rookie dancers who started their training this month ahead of showtime in May.

It also comes after Jenna was invited to take part when the event returned post-pandemic but she couldn't accept the spot.

"I was given the chance to compete in 2022 when it was able to be held again but on the same day I received the phone call, I had literally just found out that I was 10 weeks pregnant," said Jenna, who has a son called Harris (8) and daughter Katy (1).

"So this has been the first year I've been able to take apart again. The hospice is obviously close to my heart as the care not only my dad, but my whole family, received while he was a patient there was just beyond anything anyone would expect.

"It is such a fabulous place full of light and kindness and I am delighted I am able to take part in Strictly again and raise money for them."

Jenna Christie and her family.
Jenna Christie and her family.

Partnered with Louise Mainland, from Kincraig, they will be learning a samba and a showdance, as one of the contest's first same-sex dance couples.

"I'm happy to be in one of the same-sex couples," said the adult support worker. "I think it's more about the person and who you gel with to make a good dance team and Louise is lovely. I think we are going to have good fun with our training and in terms of who will take the lead, we're just taking the dances as they come and seeing how we just naturally fall into it."

She's planning some more fundraising activities and vowed that if the hospice organised another zipline fundraiser from the Kessock Bridge, she'd sign up for it along with her husband Neil.

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