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Strictly Inverness dancer's fundraising efforts supported by late mum’s talent

By Andrew Dixon

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Russell Rekhy, Zach and Shireen Fyffe, Jack Mackay and Wendy Morgan.
Russell Rekhy, Zach and Shireen Fyffe, Jack Mackay and Wendy Morgan.

A Strictly Inverness dancer's fundraising efforts are being contributing to by her late mother.

Shireen Fyffe (30), from Inverness, is competing in the annual charity event in memory of her mum Joan Mackay, whose talent for furniture upcycling will now aid her daughter.

The contest – aiding organisers and hosts Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre – sees all 16 dance couples generate donations.

Joan was cared for by the hospice in 2022 and spent the last five months of her life, with her husband Jack, there.

She had a keen interest in upcycling, learning a lot of her skills at New Start Highland, a local charity that creates social and environmental improvements within the Highland community through supporting people, delivering training opportunities and promoting re-use. Joan attended classes there in 2017 and was so skilled that she was asked to exhibit her work at an event held in Eden Court in 2018.

After Joan died, husband Jack reached out to New Start to ask if they would like to sell some of the pieces Joan had made. Of the nine pieces contributed, eight have been sold by New Start, with the remaining item, a beautiful yellow seat, currently listed as an item in Highland Hospice’s Catwalk for a Cause Auction.

The eight sold items raised £708, and Jack arranged for the money to be split between New Start and Shireen’s Strictly Inverness fundraising.

Jack said: “It’s comforting for me to be able to put £354 towards Shireen’s Strictly fundraising total as a result of the furniture my talented wife Joan so lovingly restored. I’m so proud of Joan – and Shireen – and it really feels like Joan is directly contributing towards Shireen’s Strictly challenge, which is incredibly special. Both Shireen and I feel very emotional about this contribution, and I will forever be indebted to both charities for the support and confidence that they gave to Joan.”

New Start’s operations manager Russell Rekhy said: “Joan was naturally talented and very creative and by attending New Start Highland’s training workshops, Joan soon developed her own range of goods, which she showcased and sold at the Eden Court exhibition and other outlets.

"Joan is fondly remembered by all the training staff at New Start Highland for her passion and willingness to learn.”

Hospice communications manager Wendy Morgan said: “We are all behind Shireen as she trains and fundraises towards Strictly Inverness as we know how special her reason is for participating. On behalf of Highland Hospice, huge thanks to both Shireen and Jack for their continued support. They have done so much to fundraise and to raise awareness of our care and services, and we are so very grateful for this.”

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