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WATCH: BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni feels at ‘home’ in Inverness after judging Strictly Inverness

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Jason Kelman and Shireen Fyffe won Strictly Inverness 2024.
Jason Kelman and Shireen Fyffe won Strictly Inverness 2024.

Strictly Inverness – one of the top events in the Highland Capital’s calendar – returned this week with BBC’s very own Strictly star, Giovanni Pernice, judging in the grand finale last night.

The massively popular event raised more than £300,000 for the organising charities – the Highland Hospice and the Inverness Ice Centre.

Incredible dance moves, sparkly costumes and strong emotions were at the core of the four-night event towards which many have worked for.

This year Giovanni made a star appearance dressed in a kilt, as he critiqued each and everyone of the dancers on their performance, technique and rhythm.

He said: “It’s been fantastic. I think the competition has been great and it's so good to see it all go to a good cause.

“It’s all about taking part and having fun. The dancers should want to have left the floor knowing that they had tried their best as you don’t want to have any regrets as the regrets that we have today are the chances that we never took.

“But, the dancers were good. Some were better than others, as always, but they were very good and charismatic which is what we want…positivity!

“It felt nice to be upgraded to a judge in the competition, that’s for sure.”

In the process of Strictly, Ginovanni has found Inverness to be his ‘second home’ and said he ‘feels like a local here now’.

Previous celebrity guest judges for the Saturday final have been Anton du Beke, Flavia Cacace-Mistry and last year, Aljaz Scorjanec and Janette Manrana.

Thirty-two novices were brought on board, partnered with each other and then trained by the expert group of dance tutors employed by the charities, between January and May.

Couples performed in front of an audience of 600 people and a panel of judges on the Thursday or Friday semi-finals, resulting in the final eight couples battling it in last night’s Grand Final which determined the overall winners to be Jason Kelman and Shireen Fyffe.

The duo, who raised £18,700 in aid of the Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre through their fundraising efforts, were still struggling to believe they won the competition.

Shireen said: “When my mum was here at the hospice, in 2021 I said to her that I would do Strictly. So this one is for my mum.

“I think she would be really proud!”

Jason added: “It’s literally unbelievable. Two weeks ago we were saying that if we danced well enough we might have gotten through to the final.”

Entries are now open for those keen to get their dancing shoes on and take part in Strictly Inverness 2025.

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