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Strictly Inverness 2024 diary: Never Gonna Quiz You Up

By Andrew Dixon

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Andy Dixon and Ruth Mason along with helpers Iona and Emily at our quiz night (plus the huge Olaf and Stitch prizes).
Andy Dixon and Ruth Mason along with helpers Iona and Emily at our quiz night (plus the huge Olaf and Stitch prizes).

Every week seems to be moving things up a notch at the moment.

This week's pinnacle was the first proper fundraiser that I organised along with my Strictly Inverness dance partner Ruth Mason.

While we've both been learning to dance – so we can put on a show when the music hits in May – we've also been fundraising for event organisers and hosts Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre.

Our family-friendly quiz night at Highland Rugby Club last night surpassed our expectations by generating almost £940. We were amazed by the response with around 85 people putting their knowledge to the test in an 80-question extravaganza put together by my talented and kind-hearted colleagues Craig Mclean and Georgia Smyth.

The support from those in attendance – including colleagues from Moray – towards our fundraising was awesome to see, with our 50-prize tombola, 20-prize raffle and guess the birthdays of the stuffed Disney characters (a talking Stitch and a one metre tall Olaf) helping towards the total. Congratulations to everyone who left with a prize – especially our quiz winners who secured victory with a tense tie-breaker after two teams finished level once the eight rounds were complete.

It wouldn't have been such a success without the sponsorship of Cairngorm Group, the support of Inverness BID, the welcome of Highland Rugby Club and the generosity with time and prizes of a few of my colleagues – as well as the help and backing of my family and the patient and wonderful Ruth.

I've never organised a charity event before. Don't get me wrong, I've been to numerous types of events – many where Highland News & Media has been part of it as media partner or organiser but never had the level of control and responsibility as there was last night. There was a degree of pressure not to ruin it and wreck everyone's Friday night, but there was also the importance of generating support for our Strictly Inverness fundraising.

I found that organisation, having the foundation of a running order and generally being relaxed about it once it started was key to really enjoying it. Obviously there was that fear that nobody would show up, but as folk arrived and started to engage with everything we had planned, we felt we had done a decent job – and we're really pleased and grateful with the result.

Next up for us is being part of the charity raffle at world-famous psychic medium June Field's event at the Craigmonie Hotel in Inverness on March 6. We're delighted that the funds from the event's charity raffle will be split between our Strictly Inverness campaign and All Dog Rescue Scotland.

The event's poster.
The event's poster.

Meanwhile, on the dancefloor our group dance added another level of difficulty (at least for me... some of the others in Team Thursday make it look easy!) which when we all nail it should look amazing.

Our rumba has a sharp focus on precision. I don't know if I'm right, but it feels like such a technical dance where everything is exposed for scrutiny due to it's relatively slower speed. In contrast, our samba has probably three (maybe four) times as many steps in a similar duration of song (so far) and is much more high octane. It's fun learning these different styles but it's not easy – however I can probably guarantee that we won't get mixed up part way through and start doing the other's choreography.

Another positive this week was the chance to learn more about the dancers in Team Thursday by sharing their factfiles online. Although we've been learning our group dance for more than a month, we've had little time for chatting face-to-face so this at least filled in some of the basics for getting to know them. It'll be Team Friday's turn this coming week – so keep your eyes peeled.

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.

I remain astonished 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. About half the balls are still available so get involved now.

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.

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

Friends and colleagues have also entered the bonus ball contest and bought raffle tickets during the past six 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 so far with the total already passing £60,000.

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

  • For Jacqui Crawford: Pool competition, February 23, 147 Pool and Snooker Centre, Inverness
  • For Melissa Brailsford: Rock and roll bingo, February 24, Mosset Tavern, Forres
  • For Shireen Fyffe: Clothes Swish, February 24, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Sean MacIver: Live music, February 24, Gellions, Inverness
  • For Amy Bernera and Lana Ingram: Family ice disco, February 24, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Ryan Bell: Charity spin class, February 25, Inverness Fitness Studio
  • For Rachel Wood and Reece Ross: Quiz night, March 1, Glen Ord Distillery, Muir of Ord
  • For Stefan Robertson: Elvis Presley tribute, March 2, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Amy Macleod: Soup and pudding lunch, March 2, Bernera Community Centre
  • 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 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 Ryan Bell and Angela Urquhart, Abba karaoke night, March 16, Inverness Ice Centre
  • For Rachel Wood: Hospice Cup charity football match, March 17, Millburn Academy all-weather pitch, Inverness
  • For Kenna Ross: Soundbath, March 17, Balloch Hall
  • For Beth Saunders: Beth's Blacktie Bash, March 22, Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
  • For Shireen Fyffe: Football tournament, March 23, Inverness Royal Academy all-weather pitch
  • For Kenna Ross: Afternoon tea, March 23, Ness Walk Hotel, Inverness
  • For Louise Mainland: Spring Fayre, March 23, Kincraig Hall
  • For Stefan Robertson: Party night with DJ Gary Tuach, March 23, Chieftain Hotel, Inverness
  • For Jacqui Crawford: Ceilidh dance, February 23, Culcabock and Drakies Community Hall, 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 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 Robert Ince: Bob's big car boot & indoor market, March 31, Dingwall Mart
  • 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 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
  • For Stefan Robertson: Tipsy tea party, April 27, Beaufort Hotel, Inverness

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

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