IT’S that time of year again as 10 courageous contestants sign up for St Rocco’s glitziest fundraiser.

Strictly St Rocco’s returns to The Mere Golf Resort and Spa on December 10 when a group of brave volunteers will battle it out on the dancefloor in the hope of taking home that sparkly disco ball trophy and raising as

much sponsorship money for the hospice as possible.
And the beginners have already been practising their dance moves with the professionals from Cadmans Dance School ahead of the big event.

Former Olympic gold medallist hockey player Martyn Grimley, who is now director of Warriner and Co wealth management firm, is one of this year’s volunteers.

Martyn said he is always on the lookout for a challenge to support a good cause and he was inspired to sign up for Strictly by former contestant Ian Mackinnon.

He said: “I’m working hard not to embarrass anyone and getting all glittery for a fantastic cause. 

“I like a good dance, when the lights are low and the evening has got to the stage when nobody cares anymore, but other than that I don’t have a lot of experience I’m afraid.”

Martyn, who works in Stretton, was in the audience for Strictly St Rocco’s 2016 and after visiting the hospice to see all the staff’s hard work he said he was keen to support the centre.

He will be showing off his skills by dancing the quickstep with a professional and added: “I’m dancing every week so I know that it’s hard work and terribly nerve-wracking.

“My stomach goes every time I think about it. In the dim and distant past I have played hockey for Great Britain 178 times and won a gold medal at the Seoul Olympics in front of 50,000 people.

“But I can honestly say I wasn’t this nervous at any point during my hockey playing career.

“It just shows what happens when you step out of your comfort zone.

“Fingers crossed we all get through it without without any trip ups, that everyone has a great time and we get to raise money for such a great organisation, which I’m truly honoured to be supporting.”

The charity had promised that this year’s show will have all the glamour, energy and fantastic dance moves the audience is expecting to see.

St Rocco’s, based on Lockton Lane, provides specialist care for residents with terminal illnesses. 

It offers people a place to stay when they are undergoing treatment for life-limiting illnesses and also provides therapies, neighbourhood support and a hospice at home service which sees doctors, nurses and carers go out into the community.

The centre also helps families who face losing their loved ones to serious illness and the organisation relies on fundraising events and the support of the community to provide care.

Strictly St Rocco’s is one of the most popular occasions on the charity’s calendar and the contestants will take to the dancefloor in front of about 500 guests and a panel of expert judges.

This year’s event is sponsored by Rybrook Jaguar, based on Silver Street.

A LONG term supporter of St Rocco’s, Vicky Hewitt will be dancing her heart out at Strictly St Rocco’s in memory of one of her best friends.

The marketing executive, who works for Rybrook Jaguar, lost her close friend Jane Ashton and said the care the hospice provided for Jane in the last days of her life was second to none.

Vicky said: “Jane took me under her wing at a point in my life when things weren’t easy.

“We went everywhere together, we laughed and cried and we shared some tough times. 

“In the last few weeks of her life she stayed at St Rocco’s, where her every need was taken care of with love and laughter.

“Not only did they look after Jane, allowing her to slip away peacefully and with dignity, they supported her family. I am not family so I wasn’t expecting to receive any support from the hospice, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

“The hand of support and care was extended to me as much as her family and for that I will be forever grateful.”

Vicky set about the supporting the charity by taking part in the Starlight Walk and the Colour Run as well as encouraging her company to sponsor the organisation’s annual golf day.

And after being invited to take part in Strictly by staff, she decided to say yes and will be dancing the American smooth with a professional.

She said: “I have a little dance experience, I did have a couple of lessons in my 20s but that was a long time ago.

“I’m hoping the Strictly experience is going to be fun but it is actually quite scary at the moment.

“I am looking forward to learning my dance and seeing what everyone else is doing.

“I also hope I will raise a reasonable amount of money for the hospice.”

CONTESTANT Carl Palmer is hoping that many nights spent on the dancefloor at Mr Smith’s will put him ahead of the competition in this year’s Strictly St Rocco’s.

The managing director for Urban Building Projects, which is based at Gemini Retail Park, said he had no choice but to sign up after being nominated by last year’s winner Rob Foden and runner up Zac Clements.

Carl, who was in the audience when Rob took the trophy, said he enjoyed the event so much he could not refuse.

He said: “On the night I’ll have my fake tan, I’ll put on my sequin shirt and perform the salsa with my professional dancer to an audience of hundreds of guests.

“I was known as ‘snakehips’ on the dance floor at Warrington’s fondly remembered nightclub, Mr Smith’s, I was a real fast and furious mover.

“I’m really looking forward to the night, it will be nerve racking but bring it on.”

Carl first volunteered for the charity when he took part in the Christmas tree collection and said it is heart-warming to see the important impact the organisation has on patients and their families.

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