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Strictly contender says: ‘Life is too short to wait in the shadows’

By Ian Duncan

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Mhairi Fraser and Dean Bell. Picture: Callum Mackay
Mhairi Fraser and Dean Bell. Picture: Callum Mackay

A fundraising tribute event following the death of a close friend led to a nurse signing up to Strictly Inverness.

Mhairi Fraser will take part in the annual charity dance contest alongside Dean Bell.

“I lost a close friend last year just months before her 40th birthday. Amy [Tuach] had been unwell, but her passing was still a shock and heartbreaking. Amy’s husband Gary, daughter Chloe and other close friends arranged a fundraising ball in her memory which took place the week before what would have been her 40th birthday.

“During the process we spent lot’s of time together and I hadn’t previously realised just how much Amy and Gary had done for Highland Hospice in the past. We made a lot of money which benefited a few charities including Highland Hospice and Mikeysline and I was buzzing.

“Something told me to look at Strictly Inverness a few days later and I read that the closing date for applications was the same day so I thought why not, life is too short to wait in the shadows.”

Mrs Fraser had thought about applying for a few years but life was busy, with a young and active family, and the thought of not being able to give it 100 per cent put her off.

The 41-year-old said she was enjoying the training, adding: “I love dancing and music. I am a complete novice although friends say that I can do a mean Tina Turner impression on the dance floor.

“I love the training; I am really enjoying every lesson and I can see us improving week by week. I am delighted to be partnered with Dean, we don’t take things too seriously so we have great fun – and he is able to lift me!

“Our Thursday night teachers are Nicky MacKay-Barclay and Ashleigh Gribbons for the waltz. There is always a laugh with Nicky and Ashleigh and I love how we learn.

“They have their work cut out making me graceful and teaching me to keep my head up. Suzanne is teaching us our showdance which is high energy and absolutely great fun. Again, we always have such a laugh and I have a big smile on my face after each lesson.”

As well as the hospice, Inverness Ice Centre will benefit from the fundraising of all 16 couples set to compete at the venue from May 10-13.

Mr Bell, who is originally from Livingston, said: “I decided to enter Strictly two days after my dad passed away.

“My family and I have had a few hard years recently – our son was born in March 2020 and was unwell, my mum passed away in August 2020, dad passed away in October 2022.

“I was not coping well with everything, so when I saw the advert I thought it would be great for me as well as raising money for the hospice.”

He said the training was amazing and they were coming on really well.

He added: “Mhairi is amazing, the best dance partner I could have hoped for.”

They have a kids fun day planned at the Raigmore Community Centre tomorrow between 10am and 2pm and a Boogie Bingo Night at the Raigmore Motel on March 18 from 7.30pm until late.

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