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Strictly Inverness 2024 diary: Thank you for all your support so far

By Andrew Dixon

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Strictly Inverness's Team Thursday (new couple to be added tomorrow).
Strictly Inverness's Team Thursday (new couple to be added tomorrow).

Highland News & Media is offering a year of Digital+ access for just £25 (was £49.88) – with all the money being donated to Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre.

The deal is in support of my participation in this year's Strictly Inverness dance contest.

Use the code STRICTLY on a Digital+ annual subscription and help support local charities today.

Subscription gives you unlimited access to the Strathy and all other HNM sites online, access to our app and access to our e-editions.

This is an amazing gesture by Highland News & Media in support of Strictly Inverness which raises much-needed cash for event organisers and hosts Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Centre. My colleagues are incredible for agreeing to this.

If everyone who reads this, shares it on their social media channels then it will raise awareness of the event and in turn help those behind it.

We’ve been the media partner of this wonderful event since it launched in 2010 and whenever I went to the final, I always thought: ‘I’d love to do that’. During my career I’ve written, edited and read countless articles about the tremendous work the hospice does and anyone I’ve spoken to about the cause always speaks so highly of it.

Sadly, I have friends and family who have had cancer so this is an opportunity to give something back. I also want to show my girls that if they put their mind to something, they can do it.

This week's fundraising also included a couple of hours dressed as hospice mascot Bobby the Bee at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness on Friday, then around three hours at Tesco Extra in Inshes Retail Park today. I'm really grateful to Chris Kershaw (Eastgate Shopping Centre) and Caron Dalby (Tesco Inshes) for allowing us to be there. Thank you to everyone who donated, stopped for a chat and supported mine and my dance partner Ruth Mason's involvement in the event.

The fundraising element with the hospice and ice centre set to benefit from the efforts of all the dancers is such a big part of the process – and an eye-opener in terms of the level of organisation needed to arrange different things.

But the nicest part – other than the support of friends, family and colleagues – is the backing of other competitors. There are 32 of us (again – new couple start tomorrow) trying to learn our two couples dances and a group dance, yet the fundraising also counts towards our success in the contest so seeing people show support at each other's fundraising events is great.

Beth Saunders and Andy Dixon.
Beth Saunders and Andy Dixon.

Last weekend, I was among a crowd of people who went along to a darts, pool and dominoes competition at the Blacksmiths in Inverness, organised by Beth Saunders – fellow Team Thursday dancer Shaun Rose also popped in (after he'd done a daredevil fundraising bungee jump in Killiecrankie earlier in the day).

On Wednesday, Shaun, his dance partner Kenna Ross, Ruth and I were the first guests of this year's batch of dancers to be welcomed onto a live request show on Inverness Hospital Radio at Raigmore Hospital. It was a relaxed chat about what we were doing, why we were doing it and what we had planned for future fundraising with experienced hosts Terry Henderson and Atholl Menzies. If you didn't hear it, then listen in from 8pm-9pm each Wednesday as the other couples appear in weeks to come.

Our appearance on Inverness Hospital Radio.
Our appearance on Inverness Hospital Radio.

All this focus on fundraising hasn't taken too much time away from the dancing, although as sessions mount up, so does the difficulty (at least that's my view of it!). Professionals make it look so good – and that comes with time and repetition. I'm a great believer that the longest road is consistency over time (I thank Big Mike Van Wyck for that).

Ruth Mason and Andy Dixon.
Ruth Mason and Andy Dixon.

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 this coming Friday 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.

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 five 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 £50,000.

Strictly Inverness's Team Friday.
Strictly Inverness's Team Friday.

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

  • For Shireen Fyffe: Kids fun afternoon, February 11, Fyrish Gymnastics Centre
  • For Niamh Mcauley: Quiz night, February 15, Jackos, Nairn
  • 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 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 Stefan Robertson: Elvis Presley tribute, March 2, Inverness Ice 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 Angela Urquhart, Quiz 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 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 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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