With the star-studded final of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing hitting our screens this weekend, a group of charity supporters are investing hours at an Inverness studio ahead of their own ballroom bonanza.
Following a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Come Dancing With Poppyscotland in Association with Toe 2 Toe Dance will return bigger and better in early 2022 and the upcoming festive period offers no let up for the dancers in their preparations. Due to its growing popularity next year’s event will over two nights, Friday 1 and Saturday 2 April, at Drumossie House Hotel in Inverness with tickets going on sale to the public from today.
The charity competition sees novices matched with more experienced dancers from local dance school Toe2Toe and eight couples have been under their expert tutelage for several weeks now. Catherine Musgrave, from Lochardil in Inverness, has been paired with reigning champion Neil MacKenzie.
“We’ve been in training since September, and it’s been an absolute joy. I’d never done any dancing before this and am doing around 6 sessions per week now. I think I’m hooked for life! The event will be here before we know it so I’m trying to get in as much training as I can. We will be performing two dances: the Tango and the Rumba. I can’t wait.”
“Neil has been amazing to work with, we just clicked straight away. Although I’ll be nervous on the night, I’ll have my husband, my kids, other family members, friend and even work clients there cheering me on. It’s all for such a worthwhile cause and I really hope lots more people buy tickets and come along for two amazing nights.”
Along with his previous dance partner Sam Brock, Neil lifted the famous glitterball trophy last time the event was held in March 2020. Although Neil has an eye on more silverware in 2022, supporting the novice dancers is his main focus. He said:
“This has become such a popular event and I just love being part of it. Each year the new dancers put so much work in. To take on a major competition like this having never danced before is massive so I just try to offer whatever support I can.”
Overseeing the training are Tristian and Jen Hill from Toe2Toe Dance, who have partnered with Poppyscotland since the event’s inception in 2016. Tristian said:
“We’ve got another great group, both our own experience dancer and our newcomers. We have thrown a lot at them in the first few weeks of training, but they are picking it all up and getting better every week.”
Poppyscotland’s Head of Fundraising and Learning, Gordon Michie, said:
“We are delighted that we can finally stage Come Dancing With Poppyscotland in Association with Toe 2 Toe Dance after a two-year enforced break because of the pandemic. This event has raised over £70,000 to support Poppyscotland’s vital, life-changing services for our Armed Forces community and support is needed now more than ever.
“Due to the growing popularity, we have spread the event over two nights with the first night having a family theme. It has become the largest event of its kind in the North of Scotland and we really hope the public will get their sequins and bow ties looked out and join us for a great couple of nights.”
Tickets for Come Dancing with Poppyscotland are available from www.poppyscotland.org.uk/come-dancing.