Keeeeep dancing! Stars of Strictly Northampton get underway with first week of rehearsals

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Contestants and dancers for this year’s Strictly Northampton jived and waltzed their way through the first rehearsals at Step By Step Dance School in the town’s Henry Street.

This year’s show, which is being headline sponsored by Aspers Casino of Northampton, is the sixth annual charity Strictly Northampton to be staged and will be taking place on Saturday, November 21, at Derngate.

Former Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Robin Windsor will be on the panel of judges on the evening, which is in aid of Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton.

Hosts for the night of Latin and Ballroom dancing will be ITV’s weather presenter Laura Tobin, who reached the finals of Strictly Northampton 2012 as one of the celebrity contestants and attended Duston Upper School.

She will be joined on stage by Inspiration FM and BBC Radio Northampton presenter Mark Dean, who also grew up in Northampton and was runner-up in BBC Radio Northampton’s Strictly Dancing in 2008.

Tickets for this year’s Strictly Northampton are already selling fast and there will be 24 couples competing against each other to raise the coveted glitter ball trophy. They also have to raise money for the chosen charity and so far have raised almost £5,000.

Carmela Author, Italian cookery tutor and demonstrator Carmela Sereno Hayes, who has been dubbed Northampton’s answer to Nigella Lawson, is one of this year’s volunteers who will be putting her dancing shoes.

“I am over the moon to be involved and to get this opportunity,” said Carmela, who runs Carmela’s Kitchen. “It will be great to have some fun away from the pressures of work and dance to raise money for Cynthia Spencer Hospice gives me absolute pleasure.

“I am really hyped up about it all and hope that my followers on social media will come and support me with my fundraising and come and watch on the night.”

Self-confessed Strictly super fan Kate Owens, of Northampton, is one of the contestants who will be paired up with a dance partner in the coming weeks.

She has a very personal reason for wanting to take part and has already sold three box-fulls of tickets for her supporters.

“My dad, Rob Barrett, is being helped by Cynthia Spencer at the moment as he has a rare cancer called chordoma which is at the bottom of his spine,” she said. “He has had treatment in Italy and now Cynthia Spencer is helping him manage his pain.”

Kate, 38, said she is delighted that Robin Windsor will be judging the contest.

“He was always one of my favourites on the show and, if I was taking part in the TV show, he would have been the one I wanted as a partner.”

Independent weight consultant Jules Gladwin, of Northampton, is already a prolific Ceroc and tango dancer, but she is looking forward to learning ballroom for the first time in the show.

“A lot of my clients have said this will be alright for me to do because I am slim and can dance salon and Argentine tango, but, as I say to them, ballroom is still new to me. And I will have to learn the steps and practice at it.”

Jules has very personal reasons as well for taking part.

“My dad died of cancer when I was eight months pregnant and the hospice helping him down in Southampton, where he lived, was fantastic,” she added.