First time dancers raise thousands for charity

Caroline Reid and Richard McQuilliam perform the samba. Pic by Rebecca Fennell Photography

Caroline Reid and Richard McQuilliam perform the samba. Pic by Rebecca Fennell Photography

First published in News Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THREE couples from the Chilterns danced in front of 500 people as they raised thousands of pounds for a hospice charity.

None of the couples had ever danced professionally before and one of them took up the call after reading about another of the first timers in the Bucks Free Press.

They all learned the steps to the Argentine Tango and the Samba in just six weeks of training before putting on their dancing shoes at The Hospice of St Francis’ Strictly Learn Dancing Grand Finale on Saturday.

Alan Robson from Ashley Green and his partner Katrina Bray from Chesham were the first pair to sign up "to give something back" after Alan’s late wife Sue was cared for at home and at the Berkhamsted-based Hospice before she died of brain cancer in February 2011.

Mrs Bray, 43, said: "We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for at the start, but it’s been an amazing experience.

"The most nerve wracking moment was standing in the wings, waiting to be called on stage especially as we were couple number one. Just as nerve-wracking was the two and a quarter hour wait until our next dance.

"But the buzz in the Green Room during the performances was great. We watched the performances on a screen while we waited and practised. Each couple was cheered as they came back from the stage. It was just a really supportive and friendly atmosphere."

They raised £2,200 between them and their story in the BFP inspired Richard McQuilliam and Caroline Reid from Chesham to take part as well.

Mr McQuilliam recognised Mr Robson as a former colleague at GE Healthcare in Amersham and said: "GE has raised funds for the Hospice before but we read about the challenge and really fancied it.

"We’ve just loved every second of taking part - from the first lesson to the finale. We were nervous at first but everyone was so supportive and really put us at ease. We’d recommend it to anyone."

The final couple to take part were Dave Mutton and Teresa Brosnan from Great Missenden, who have raised nearly £1,800 so far.

A total of 20 couples took part and between them raised more than £30,000 the Hospice of St Francis, which provides free care for people living with life-shortening illnesses and their families across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

Organiser Fran Martin said: "I am so proud of all our couples. They worked really hard, showed total commitment and found the courage and confidence to dance on stage in front of 500 people. To me, they’re all winners."

All three couples can be sponsored by going to www.justgiving.com/Katrina-Bray1, www.justgiving.com/Theresa-Brosnan and www.justgiving.com/Caroline-Reid4.

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