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Strictly Inverness 2024 diary: Host with the most expects a fierce competition

By Andrew Dixon

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Brian Elrick and Andy Dixon.
Brian Elrick and Andy Dixon.

If you have been to Strictly Inverness, then you'll know it's not just the competitors who are the stars of the show.

Often there are stunning displays from local young dance groups as well as long-time host Brian Elrick.

Also known as drag queen Scarlet Diamonte, he has been known to show his own talent for singing and dancing at the annual charity dance competition.

Last Sunday, London-based Brian was in the Highland capital and took the opportunity to meet all 32 rookie dancers during their second training session for their group dances at the event in May.

"It was a pleasure to meet everyone when I was able to attend the group rehearsals," he said.

"This is the first time I’ve ever met the dancers this early in the process and it was a pleasure to see how great everyone is doing already in week two. It makes me super excited that it’s going to be one fierce competition.

"If there are any words of wisdom I can offer it would be this: have fun, getting it wrong is part of the process, and remember if you're getting corrected, it’s only ever to help you improve and conquer so you can shine bright and not to highlight any error.

"On those days you are finding it tough – there will be a few – maybe you're tired, maybe you can’t remember a step, maybe you're feeling the nerves kick in, just remind yourself why you signed up, and pat yourself on the back for taking on this amazing but immense challenge.

"It’s tougher than many may think, and be extremely proud of yourself, you are contributing to an incredible event that has raised over £2 million for the two charities involved over the years, and has gained a wonderful community of dancers during this time that have formed wonderful life-long friendships.

"Be each other’s biggest supporters, embrace each session and work hard. Practice makes perfect.

"Film those early rehearsals and after time, look back and be proud of your progress.

"The days of sequins, fake tan and crowds of adoring supporters screaming for you in admiration will be here in no time, and I’ll be there championing you all as your biggest supporter.

"I'm always reachable if anyone has anything they need to ask or if ever they need any advise. Best wishes to all involved and I'll see you on the dance floor."

Brian will no doubt be a highlight of the show but it's shaping up to be something special with some of my fellow dancers in Team Thursday seeming to take to it like a duck to water. I'm not yet including myself among them but it was great to get back to training after a start-stop week previously.

Our group dance is coming along swiftly – we know our theme, our music, some steps and some of us have seen our outfits. I can't reveal any details but I can tell you it'll be spectacular!

My dance partner Ruth Mason also had her first samba class this week. It was a fast-paced, action-packed session with teacher Claire Darcy. She's so impressive and encouraging – hopefully she's also very patient.

We're having our team and dance duo photos taken tomorrow and earlier today my family and some friends were among those supporting Team Friday's Kaitlyn Heggie and Emma MacDonald, who staged a family ice skating disco party at the ice centre (more on this in the coming days).

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 overwhelmed by the generosity of Macdonald Aviemore Resort, which has donated a truly fabulous prize (details below). Please email me at andy.dixon@hnmedia.co.uk if you want to enter.

Win a one-night stay at Macdonald Aviemore Resort.
Win a one-night stay at Macdonald Aviemore Resort.

I'm also super grateful to 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.

Friends and colleagues have also entered the bonus ball contest and bought raffle tickets during the past three 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 £29,000.

The Strictly Raffle has some awesome prizes to be won.
The Strictly Raffle has some awesome prizes to be won.

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

  • 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 Jason Kelman: Highland dancing practice day, February 4, Inverness Town House
  • For Kenna Ross: Strictly come swimming, February 4, Nairn links car park
  • 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 Ryan Bell: Charity spin class, February 25, Inverness Fitness Studio
  • For Jacqui Crawford: Tipsy tea party, February 25, Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
  • For Andy Dixon and Ruth Mason: June Field (psychic, charity raffle at event), March 6, Craigmonie Hotel, Inverness
  • For Amy Bernera and Lana Ingram: Sparkling tipsy tea party, March 9, Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
  • 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 Reece Ross and Rachel Wood: Ceilidh, April 6, Green Hall, Inverness
  • For Lesley Antrobus: Rock N Reel fundraiser, April 12, Beaufort Hotel, Inverness
  • For Kaitlyn Heggie and Emma MacDonald: Dinner dance, April 13, Nairn Community & Arts Centre

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

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