TEN wannabe Vincents and Flavias will be leaving their comfort zones and grabbing their glitter balls for an evening of sparkles and sequins, strictly speaking.

A Warrington Wolves legend, a primary school head teacher, a shopping centre marketing manager and a footballer are among this year’s contestants who will be vying for the 2015 Strictly St Rocco’s crown.

Four hundred guests will attend The Mere Golf Resort and Spa on Sunday, December 13 to watch the ‘dancers’ compete in the third annual glittering ballroom and latin competition.

‘This is an extra special year for St Rocco’s as we celebrate three decades of care, so we’re very excited about December’s glittering Strictly’ Pam Massey But before then they will be given a series of lessons with experienced dance partners at Cadmans Dance Centre in Sale, led by instructors Sharon Walker and Wayne Newhouse.

Warrington Guardian editor Hayley Smith, aged 38, is one of the contestants.

“I’m used to reading about other people’s charity fundraising efforts, so to be personally involved in this one is a new concept to me and rather daunting,” she said.

“But as St Rocco’s Hospice is our charity of the year I felt compelled to do my bit, and being glamorous for a night is definitely more appealing than running a marathon.”

This year’s event coincides with the Bewsey hospice’s 30th anniversary.

St Rocco’s chief executive Pam Massey said: “This is an extra special year for St Rocco’s as we celebrate three decades of care, so we’re very excited about December’s glittering Strictly. I’ve been in the same shoes as the dancers so I know how they are feeling and I’d like to express a huge thank you to them all, and everyone else who supports this important fundraiser.”

This year’s contestants:

  • Ben Westwood, Warrington Wolves player
  • Nicky Parkinson, head teacher at Park Road Primary School, Great Sankey
  • Phil Evans, relationship director at RBS Warrington
  • Margaret Evans, partner at FDR Law, Palmyra Square
  • Ian Mackinnon, St Rocco’s patron
  • Anna Chrystal, marketing manager at Golden Square Shopping Centre
  • Mark Carrington, Wrexham FC footballer 
  • Gill Twist, director of sales at The Mere Golf Resort and Spa
  • Paul Cockcroft, SSE Fiddlers Ferry Power Station
  • Hayley Smith, editor of the Warrington Guardian


  • A total of £62,000 has been raised for the Warrington hospice since Strictly St Rocco’s launched in 2013 and organisers expect to raise a further £30,000 this year
  • The previous two winners have been victorious in ballroom dances, so will it be third time lucky for our latin contenders this year?
  • The first winner was former Warrington Guardian chief reporter Vicki Stockman with her Viennese waltz, so this year’s Guardian contestant Hayley Smith has big shoes to fill 
  • Last year’s winner was Ben Dunne, head teacher of Penketh High School, with his American Smooth quickstep. Ben was initially unsure about his choice of dance and song, but despite reservations he persevered and went on to score perfect 10s with partner Emma Wilding. Smooth dance moves must run in the Penketh High family, as Mr Dunne’s predecessor Jeff Hughes recorded a Gangnam Style dance video which subsequently went viral after it was published on the Warrington Guardian website
  • Warrington Wolves player Ben Westwood was a judge for the first two Strictly events but this year he will be trying his luck on the dancefloor instead.

We will be following the contestants’ training in the run up to the event. 
   You can also sponsor the dancers by visiting their individual fundraising pages, which we will be publicising in the coming weeks once their dances and partners are announced.