Customer services manager rolls the dice hoping for success in Strictly Northampton

Picture: Martin Farmer
Picture: Martin Farmer

A hospitality manager at Aspers Casino in Northampton has never set foot on a ballroom dance floor before, but Kelly James has sequins running through her blood.

Her mother and grandfather are both keen ballroom dancers and Kelly, 31, is hoping she’s inherited their genes when she represents Aspers Casino in Strictly Northampton next month at Derngate.

Kelly James, from Aspers Casino

Kelly James, from Aspers Casino

Kelly is hospitality customer services manager of Aspers Casino, which is the sponsor of Strictly Northampton 2015. The contest will see 23 couples dance it out on the Derngate stage in front of a 1,300 audience, in aid of Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

“My grandad is 96 and he still goes dancing three times a week . . . well, I think it is more like shuffling,” said Kelly, of Kingsthorpe, Northampton. “He would love to come up from my home city of Bristol to watch me in Strictly Northampton, but I won’t know whether he will be able to make the journey until nearer the time.”

Kelly has been partnered with dancer Lee Barrett, who recently won Strictly Brackley, for the show and they are couple number 17.

“I think that’s a good time to go on,” she said. “It gives us time to get ready and get changed and suss out the competition!”

Each couple will be dancing an American smooth waltz, jive and then a group dance on stage on show night, Saturday, November 21.

“The group dances are themed around musicals and our group is dancing a tango to Chicago,” said Kelly. “We have just started working on that and rehearse after the normal Sunday afternoon rehearsals.”

The non-dancing contestants have each been given a £1,000 fundraising target to achieve, in aid of Cynthia Spencer Hospice, and Kelly has already raised more than £500 on her JustGiving page.

“I am really really enjoying taking part, more than I thought I would,” she said. “Everyone is getting on so well and is very friendly. I think the competition side hasn’t kicked in yet, but maybe it will soon.”

Aspers Casino is adding glitz and glamour to Strictly Northampton 2015, with the after-party taking place at its Commercial Street casino, with free bubbly, a buffet, as well as a DJ and dance floor.

As the headline sponsor, Aspers has made former Strictly Come Dancing professional Robin Windsor’s visit possible, as he will be one of the judges of Strictly Northampton.

Speaking of the sponsorship, David Stratford, general manager of Aspers Casino, said: “Strictly Northampton is all about fun, thrills and entertainment; values that Aspers prides itself upon. 100 per cent of our sponsorship fee goes directly to Cynthia Spencer Hospice and we are proud to sponsor this event for the second year running.

“Cynthia Spencer Hospice has been one of our nominated charities for several years now and we are keen to support a charity close to our hearts.”

Strictly Northampton is at Derngate on Saturday, November 21. Tickets available from the box office on 01604 624811 or at