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Strictly Inverness 2024 diary: Dancers smash £100k charity fundraising milestone

By Andrew Dixon

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Angela Urquhart and dance partner Ryan Bell. Picture: Callum Mackay
Angela Urquhart and dance partner Ryan Bell. Picture: Callum Mackay

When people think of Strictly Inverness, thoughts naturally go to dancing – but it's much more than that.

It's true that the 32 of us are learning a few dances ahead of showtime in May but a huge part of what we're doing is giving back to our community by fundraising for event organisers and hosts Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre.

While we are mastering our steps, we're also organising quiz nights, ceilidhs, karaoke events, ice skating discos and much more besides.

We were each set a target of generating a minimum of £1000 in donations. It's astonishing to see that in little over 10 weeks the group as a whole has brought in more than £107,500.

For some of us, it'll all be new. It's also a big challenge. But it's all for charity and everyone must remember that. Everyone is contributing to the same pot so it's so inspiring to hear everyone's successes and exciting to see what they are doing.

I've tried to flag up as many of these events as I can over the weeks and will continue to do so. I'll also try and support my fellow dancers as much as I can by being at events, buying teams on football cards, purchasing lucky numbers and generally helping to raise awareness of what they are doing in order for it to reach a wider audience.

Beth Saunders and dance partner Darryl Geegan. Picture: Callum Mackay
Beth Saunders and dance partner Darryl Geegan. Picture: Callum Mackay

Huge shout outs must go to Angela Urquhart and Beth Saunders who have raised nearly £25,000 between them. Angela, from Team Friday, is leading the way with more than £13,200, while Beth, from Team Thursday, keeps adding to her £11,100 so far.

The fundraising is an important element of the competition because each dance couple is rewarded points in the semi-final based on their partnership's combined total.

Those are added to points earned via the individual dances – for me and dance partner Ruth Mason, we have a rumba and a samba to master. We are also learning a group dance as part of the run of shows.

Tickets for the shows went on sale this week. Dancers Angela Urquhart, Sonny Rhind and Jackie Sutherland with Highland Hospice's Carrie MacDonald. Picture: Callum Mackay
Tickets for the shows went on sale this week. Dancers Angela Urquhart, Sonny Rhind and Jackie Sutherland with Highland Hospice's Carrie MacDonald. Picture: Callum Mackay

Our dances are improving and we were given a glimpse of our samba outfits this week. Also, reality is setting in as we were asked to book our slots for our spray tans ahead of showtime.

I've never had a spray tan before but hopefully it'll be fine following my body wax challenge. If you're not aware of this, it's my final fundraiser and will be at The Therapy Suite in Church Street, Inverness on April 20.

I set a painometer thinking there was no way Ruth and I would raise enough between us to get anywhere near being waxed everywhere (within reason) but it looks like we might.

Beauty therapist Shona Maclean and Andy Dixon. Picture: James Mackenzie
Beauty therapist Shona Maclean and Andy Dixon. Picture: James Mackenzie

It means every penny counts though and some of that may come from my corporate sponsor Highland News & Media offering a 12-month Digital+ subscription to our 11 titles, including The Inverness Courier, for just £25 – with all the money going to charity.

The deal is in support of my participation in Strictly Inverness, which will see all the money collected from this promotion going to the hospice and ice centre.

Our Digital+ subscription, which usually costs £49.88 per year, grants you access to our websites, news app, e-editions of our newspapers and invites to exclusive events.

I was taken aback by HNM doing this promotion offer first time around, then we did it again – and now third time's the charm as this generosity and public support for what we do has generated more than £1000 so far. Thank you to everyone involved, especially those who have used the code STRICTLY and supported the offer, which runs until midnight tomorrow.

Andy Dixon in a mask. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Andy Dixon in a mask. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Further thanks must go to everyone who has bought a ticket for the first Highland Masquerade Ball which will be held at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on March 29. It is shaping up to be a fantastic night and has received such amazing support from individuals and businesses.

Ruth and I are overwhelmed by the help and support we've had so far from friends, family and colleagues with everything from personal fundraisers aiding our efforts to ideas for bigger events.

Ruth has also put together a race night at the Westerlea Hotel in Nairn on April 6 and a ceilidh at Hootananny in Inverness on April 7.

I'm also super grateful to The Therapy Suite, Bikes of Inverness, the Forge Gym in Inverness and MKM Building Supplies in Aviemore, who are displaying posters for the Strictly Raffle and selling tickets (£1 each) on my behalf to anyone interested.

It has been so uplifting to receive such encouragement and support, which I'm sure other dancers would echo.

All the fundraising activities coming up that I'm aware of are here:

  • For Amy Macleod and Lana Ingram: Family Fun Day, March 24, The Training Club, Inverness
  • For Reece Ross and Rachel Wood: Evening of mediumship, March 28, Caley Club, Inverness
  • For Andy Dixon and Ruth Mason: Highland Masquerade Ball, March 29, Drumossie Hotel, Inverness
  • For Melissa Brailsford: Happy Easter disco, March 29, Mosset Tavern, Forres
  • For Stefan Robertson: Easter family ice disco, March 29, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Niamh Mcauley: Great Gatsby Night, Jimmy Badgers
  • For Darryl Geegan: So you think you can drag?, March 30, British Legion Club, Inverness
  • For Ailsa Campbell: Charity football tournament, March 30, Maryburgh pitches
  • For Kenna Ross: Music Talent Show, March 30, Balloch Church
  • For Shireen Fyffe: Sunflower flow yoga & sound bath session, March 30, Inverness Town House
  • For Scott Wilson: Quiz night, March 30, Smithton Hotel
  • For Robert Ince: Bob's big car boot & indoor market, March 31, Dingwall Mart
  • For Jacqui Crawford: Family fun day, March 31, Culcabock and Drakies Community Hall, Inverness
  • For Shaun Rose: Ice skating party, March 31, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Jackie Sutherland: Smartphone quiz night, April 1, Platform 8, Inverness
  • For Robert Ince: Curry and quiz night, April 5, Dingwall Auction Mart
  • For Ruth Mason: Race night, April 6, Westerlea Hotel, Nairn
  • For Sean MacIver and Niamh Mcauley: Race night, April 6, Chieftain Hotel, Inverness
  • For Reece Ross and Rachel Wood: Ceilidh, April 6, Green Hall, Inverness
  • For Stefan Robertson: Bobby Bee cake event, April 6, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Inverness
  • For Jason Kelman: Charity coffee morning, April 6, Inverness Town House
  • For Craig Watson: Ceilidh, April 6, Loch Ness Country House Hotel
  • For Ruth Mason: Hoolie for the Hospice Ceilidh, April 7, Hootananny, Inverness
  • For Lesley Clark: Rock N Reel fundraiser, April 12, Beaufort Hotel, Inverness
  • For Jacqui Crawford: Disco, April 12, Fairways, Inverness
  • For Kaitlyn Heggie and Emma MacDonald: Dinner dance, April 13, Nairn Community & Arts Centre
  • For Stefan Robertson and Lesley Clark: Full Monty Fundraiser, April 13, Raigmore Motel, Inverness
  • For Sonny Rhind: Cammie's Connections, April 13, The Field, Alness
  • For Louise Mainland: Family fundraising ceilidh, April 13, Kincraig Village Hall
  • For Shaun Rose and Kenna Ross: Prize bingo, April 14, Café V8, Inverness
  • For Ailsa Campbell: Domino tournament, April 20, Conon Hotel, Dingwall
  • For Jason Kelman and Shireen Fyffe + Sean MacIver and Niamh Mcauley: Dirty Dancing dance workshop, April 20, Inverness Town House
  • For Lesley Clark: Burlesque spring fling, April 20, Upstairs, Inverness
  • For Clare MacDonald: 'His' & 'Hers' evening delight, April 20, Kirkhill Community Centre
  • For Robert Ince: Community Mini Market, April 20, Tesco car park, Dingwall
  • For Stefan Robertson: Tipsy tea party, April 27, Beaufort Hotel, Inverness
  • For Craig Watson: Quiz, April 27, Farr Hall, Inverarnie
  • For Robert Ince: Tipsy tea party, April 27, Dingwall Legion Hall

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

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