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Strictly Inverness 2024 diary: A start-stop week

By Andrew Dixon

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Andy Dixon, Emilia Stewart, Craig Watson, Ruth Mason and Clare MacDonald.
Andy Dixon, Emilia Stewart, Craig Watson, Ruth Mason and Clare MacDonald.

Like it was for most people, wintry weather disrupted this week's plans.

While a lot of schools were temporarily closed, businesses decided to shut early and sporting fixtures were cancelled or postponed so was our second Strictly Inverness samba class.

It was the right call. Safety has to take priority, especially when folk are travelling and there's snow and ice on the roads. But I didn't realise how keen I was at preparing myself for this annual dance competition until we weren't able to be there.

I'm all-in with this commitment to learning two individual dances and a group dance ahead of showtime in May, so instead of being at training, I invested some time into watching an online tutorial by BBC Strictly Come Dancing legend Anton Du Beke and stepped around our kitchen.

It was worse though for my dance partner Ruth Mason because she missed our initial samba lesson, so we'll have to play catch-up. I've tried to teach her what we did in week one, so she has all the moves – just maybe not in the right order!

Although, I don't know for sure, I'm guessing some of the other 15 rookie dance couples were hampered by the weather as well.

With storm warnings ahead for tomorrow, we'll see how many of us in Team Thursday make it to our second group dance session.

Last week's group training was a lot of fun and we were lucky enough to have Strictly Inverness 2023 champions Natalie Marshall and Stevie Strang as our mentors, while Laura Johnston-Scott is our coach.

After a four-hour break, Ruth and I then had our first rumba training hour with coach Emilia Stewart, alongside Team Friday's Clare MacDonald and Craig Watson. Fair play to Clare and Craig because it was their third training session of the afternoon, so I can imagine it was a lot for them to digest in a relatively short space of time.

It's obviously early days but we know our themes for the rumba and the group dance and also have our music, so it feels like progress.

Aside from the dancing, there is also the fundraising element with organisers and hosts, Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre set to benefit from the efforts of all the dancers.

I'm super grateful to Bikes of Inverness, which is displaying posters for the Strictly Raffle and selling tickets (£1 each) on my behalf to anyone interested. This adds to a similar arrangements at the Forge Gym in Inverness and MKM Building Supplies in Aviemore, who I'm equally grateful to.

At Bikes of Inverness with Kenny (left) and Roddy Riddle.
At Bikes of Inverness with Kenny (left) and Roddy Riddle.

Friends and colleagues have also bought raffle tickets during the past two weeks of fundraising and it is humbling to receive their encouragement and support. I'd imagine the same can be said for the other dancers who have generated much-needed donations too. It's been a really impressive start with the total already passing £19,500.

A variety of fundraising activities are already planned by dancers including:

  • For Kaitlyn Heggie and Emma MacDonald: Family ice skating disco party, January 27, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Beth Saunders: Darts, pool and dominoes competition, February 3, The Blacksmiths, Inverness
  • For Stefan Robertson: Psychic Night, February 3, Chieftain Hotel, Inverness
  • For Darryl Geegan: Murder Mystery Dinner, February 3, The Abbey Inn, Kinloss
  • For Clare MacDonald: Quiz night, February 9, Old North Inn, Kirkhill
  • For Shireen Fyffe: Kids fun afternoon, February 11, Fyrish Gymnastics Centre
  • For Melissa Brailsford: Family quiz night, February 17, Mosset Tavern, Forres
  • For Melissa Brailsford: Rock and roll bingo, February 24, Mosset Tavern, Forres
  • For Shireen Fyffe: Clothes Swish, February 24, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Lorraine Christie: A night of mediumship with psychic Pamela Duff, March 12, Dingwall Legion
  • For Kaitlyn Heggie, Boozy bingo, March 15, Chieftain Hotel, Inverness
  • For Ailsa Campbell: Going for Gold dinner and dance, March 16, Rose Hall, Dingwall Legion
  • For Melissa Brailsford: Saint Patrick's Day drinking, March 16, Mosset Tavern, Forres
  • For Amy Bernera: Race night, March 16, Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters Club, Stornoway
  • For Shireen Fyffe: Football tournament, March 23, Inverness Royal Academy all-weather pitch
  • For Melissa Brailsford: Happy Ester disco, March 29, Mosset Tavern, Forres
  • For Darryl Geegan: So you think you can drag?, March 30, British Legion Club, Inverness
  • For Sean MacIver and Niamh Mcauley: Race night, April 6, Chieftain Hotel, Inverness
  • For Lesley Antrobus: Rock N Reel fundraiser, April 12, Beaufort Hotel, Inverness

I'll aim to update the events list each week.

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