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Strictly Inverness 2024 diary: We're a man down... so, come and join us!

By Andrew Dixon

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Natalie Marshall and Stevie Strang. Picture: James Mackenzie
Natalie Marshall and Stevie Strang. Picture: James Mackenzie

Do you want to learn to dance? Do you want to raise money for charity? Do you want to meet new people? Are you a man?

Well this is your chance!

I'm told it's not Strictly Inverness without a bit of drama and this week we received a bombshell that has left us a man down. Without revealing what's been happening behind the scenes, new plans are being drawn up but there's one missing puzzle piece so if you know a man aged between 45-ish and 69-ish who wants to join the fun, please don't hesitate to contact me (we are the event's media partners after all) or organisers and hosts, Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre.

The annual dance contest is always spectacular but since being involved as one of the 30 (or so) dancers, I have a new level of respect for everyone involved in making it happen – past and present. The amount of commitment, care and attention to all aspects is second to none.

Now, believe it or not, I don't actually fall into the above age bracket but someone who does is Stevie Strang – one of last year's winners alongside Natalie Marshall. So, with this opportunity opening up, I thought he'd be the best person to offer a perspective from someone in the desired age range.

"I never thought of myself as the kind of person who could ever be a dancer," said Stevie, who described it as a challenge.

Natalie Marshall and Stevie Strang. Picture: James Mackenzie
Natalie Marshall and Stevie Strang. Picture: James Mackenzie

"I was so far out of my comfort zone but found an inner strength and a different side of myself I never knew was there.

"If you would like to do something out of your comfort zone that will make you feel exhilaration and confidence you never knew you had, then this is for you.

"I was part of a team, gained friends from all walks of life and exceeded all expectations. In the beginning, it was beyond my wildest dreams that it could be possible to win, yet it happened and it's an experience I will never forget.

"It's the perfect chance to get fit, achieve goals, feel uplifted, inspire others and be inspired while having a rewarding and life-changing experience."

Although I'm only two or three lessons into the three dances I'm learning, with dance partner Ruth Mason, a lot of the above is already true. So what are you waiting for? If this chimes with you or you know someone who fits the bill, send this article to them now so that they don't miss out.

Aside from the dancing, there is also the fundraising element with the hospice and ice centre set to benefit from the efforts of all the dancers.

Ruth Mason at Highland Rugby Club.
Ruth Mason at Highland Rugby Club.

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. Our first proper fundraising event is on February 16 at Highland Rugby Club where we're holding a quiz night. We're thankful to Cairngorm Group for sponsoring the event as well as Inverness BID for its much-appreciated backing.

We're hosting a quiz night.
We're hosting a quiz night.

I remain 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. 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.

Friends and colleagues have also entered the bonus ball contest and bought raffle tickets during the past four 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 £38,000.

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

My family and I had a smashing time at a family ice skating disco fundraiser organised by fellow dancers Kaitlyn Heggie and Emma MacDonald last weekend. My girls enjoyed it so much that we're already planning to go to a similar event organised by Amy Bernera and Lana Ingram on February 24.

Kaitlyn Heggie, Andy Dixon and Emma MacDonald.
Kaitlyn Heggie, Andy Dixon and Emma MacDonald.

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

  • 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 Shireen Fyffe: Valentine's Tots Pots & Galentine's Pottering Painting, The Potter's House, Muir of Ord
  • For Clare MacDonald: Quiz night, February 9, Old North Inn, Kirkhill
  • For Shireen Fyffe: Kids fun afternoon, February 11, Fyrish Gymnastics Centre
  • For Ruth Mason and Andy Dixon: Quiz night, February 16, Highland Rugby Club, Inverness
  • 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 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 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 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 Rachel Wood: Hospice Cup charity football match, March 17, Millburn Academy all-weather pitch, Inverness
  • 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 Melissa Brailsford: Happy Easter disco, March 29, Mosset Tavern, Forres
  • 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 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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