A well known cookery author, councillor and hairdresser were among those swapping their normal day jobs for dance shoes at the launch of this year’s Strictly Northampton.
Now in its sixth year and having raised hundreds of thousand pounds for charity, this year’s contest will be taking place at Derngate on Saturday, November 21.
Step by Step Dance School of Henry Street, Northampton, has taken over the running of the show, which has previously been run in conjunction with the Chronicle & Echo and BBC Northampton. The headline sponsor for the charity, which is again Cynthia Spencer Hospice, is Aspers Casino.
The launch took place at Aspers Casino in Commercial Street, Northampton, where the willing volunteers were introduced to their fellow contestants for the first time and had a chance to shake some moves on the dance floor with the professional and semi-professional dancers.
Step by Step founder and former dance champion, Andrzej Mialkowski, led the contestants through a taster session, teaching them some basic steps.
So far, Mr Mialkowski and Step by Step dancers have helped raise more than £500,000 for the various Strictly events they stage across Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
Strictly Northampton is the biggest of the events they stage and he said this year’s event would be bigger and better than ever, with a new format.
“It will be an amazing show,” said Mr Mialkowski. “We are having around 20 to 24 contestants taking part this year and I have changed the format so there will be no single freestyle dance but group freestyle dances. There will be a great opening and close to the show and I am really looking forward to it and raising more money for Cynthia Spencer Hospice.”
This year’s contestants include Italian cookery author and teacher, Carmela Sereno Hayes, who has been described as Northampton’s answer to Nigella Lawson.
She said: “I will be able to offer my great personality with some fabulous dance moves too. I love dancing and have a massive following on social media through my business ‘Carmela’s Kitchen’. I love the opportunity to help this cause as well as promoting a great dance school.”
Also in the line-up is Northampton Borough Council councillor, Matthew Golby, who describes himself as a proficient “Dad dancer.”
“I’ve been known to bust some pretty mean shapes,” he said. “I relish the challenge of taking part and learning to dance properly, especially if I can raise money for an amazing charity. I would certainly need some work on but am up for the challenge!”
Well-known Northampton hairdresser, Johnny Seckington, who owns synonymous Seckingtons in the town’s Wellingborough Road, is another contender for the glitter ball and no stranger to fund-raising. His salon has raised £9,000 over the last two years for Wateraid.
He said: “All of those who know me can tell you I’m the first and last on the dance floor at any event, although I would be the first person to admit I have no real technique.
“I have a real passion for getting things right so would be dedicated in making sure my moves met the judges’ criteria,” he added, with a wink.
Tickets for this year’s Strictly Northampton will go on sale from Derngate box office in August.