Strictly Oxford 2012 – a wonderful night of entertainment and fundraising
On Sunday 15 July 2012, sixteen couples took to the dance floor at the Oxford Town Hall to compete for the title of Strictly Oxford 2012 and help raise over £30,000 for Vale House.
With only six weeks of preparation, the 16 celebrities had to master the Cha Cha and the Quickstep as part of the competition that was watched by over 500 supporters on the night.
Such was the draw for this new event, tickets sold out within three weeks of going on sale.
Star of stage and screen, Christopher Biggins, entertained the audience as compare for the evening with his famous humour and asides. Christopher decked out in a resplendent dinner jacket with a serious amount of sparkles was in danger of putting the dancers in the shade!
Under the expert tutelage of Viv Rhymes of Step by Step dance school, each celebrity was partnered with an experienced dancer who helped shape and develop all the contestants, turning them from complete novices into wonderful performers. All the couples performed the two set pieces before moving onto the extravaganza of the night – the freesyle dance.
The creativity and energy that went into this round was truly outstanding. Oxfordshire RFU’s Colin Baldwin with partner Belinda Quilter performed a classic comical Laurel and Hardy routine, Out of the Blue member, Samuel Swinnerton looked every bit Gene Kelly with his version of Singing in the Rain with partner Laura Catchpole. Personal trainer Kieran O’Leary with partner Gemma Leggett certainly got a few pulses racing with their ‘burlesque style’ routine.
“The whole evening was amazing, all the audience I spoke to said they had a great time and it was a very slick and entertaining show. It was a shame that I didn’t manage to get my dancing up to the same standard. Fantastic amount of money raised though and I am so grateful to all my friends for being so generous in support of me,” Colin Baldwin, Oxfordshire RFU.
The couple who really came into their own and won the hearts of the audience were Euton Daley and dance partner Jane Holmes with an amazing jive. The comic routine and the sheer energy put into the performance earned them straight 10 scores from all three judges.
After all the contestants had danced their three routines, the judges scores were combined with the audience’s txt votes to determine the six pairs who were to dance off for the title. In this round, Zumba teacher Sally Shepperd dancing with Lewis Harper wowed the audience with their salsa, where the tassels on Sally’s dress never stopped spinning until Lewis lifted her high into the air for one of their many lifts!
Radio Cherwell presenter Louise Oliver and Darryl Patrick did a brilliant take on her diet and fitness business, where a sharp and highly entertaining jive was performed. “I am in awe of dancing! I’m completely overcome, still scarier than setting off race for life in front of 7,000 people. Thank you for the opportunity – it’s been amazing,” commented Louise Oliver.
Principal of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, Sally Dicketts and Kieran Cherry brought the house down with a hilarious and lively dance involving academic gowns, mortar boards and canes! After the show Sally commented, “Fantastic evening, a very good way of raising money for a cause as worthwhile as Vale House. I was not as nervous as expected but I danced with a group of fabulous people who were so supportive.”
A number of couples also brought an elegant sophistication to the event through their interpretation of the Cha Cha and quickstep. Sara Thornton dancing with Michael Davis were superb across the dance floor in their stunning Cha Cha. “When I started six weeks ago I was really daunted by the challenge. But with lots of practice and good teaching it was okay on the night! Its a good way to keep fit, have lots of fun with a great bunch of people and raise money for a great charity,” commented Sara Thornton.
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood and dance partner Jonathan Hawkins routines certainly impressed one judge in particular! Dressed in a figure hugging and backless red velvet gown, Nicola was a picture of poise and elegance, moving effortlessly across the dance floor for their latin dance. “The whole process has been an absolute joy from beginning to end. With all the incredible hard work that has gone into this by Vale House and Step by Step Dance School, I feel a bit cheeky having come out of the end of it having learnt to dance and had such a ball. At least we have raised so much money and I hope we will continue to raise more in the next few weeks, ” Nicola Blackwood, MP.
With one further text voting round by the audience, the results were in. Before the prize giving, Richard Dick Chair of the Vale House Appeal gave thanks to the many people and companies who learnt their support to the event including Step by Step Dance School, the Oxford Times and the Oxford Mail, Lucy Proprieties, Four Pillars Hotel Group, Flora de Ospina, Oxford City Council, City Audio Visual and the Vale House League of Friends.
Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson also gave a short speech on the importance of Vale House to the community of Oxfordshire and went on to suggest that he would be up for the Strictly Oxford Challenge for 2013!
The results of Strictly Oxford 2012
Winners: Euton Daley and Jane Holmes
Second place: Louise Oliver and Darryl Patrick
Third place: Nicola Blackwood and Jonathan Hawkins
Euton and Jane were presented with their trophies designed for the occasion by local stained glass artist Flora de Ospina, who used the elements of the Vale House logo in the design along with some of the thoughts of the dancers on the run up to the event.
On receiving his trophy Euton commented, “I genuinely wasn’t expecting to win. I knew we had a good chance, but it was a complete shock. The experience was so out of my comfort zone but it was a great one, I got such a lot out of it. What was great was that everyone was so supportive of each other – although it was a competition, it didn’t feel as such.”
Strictly Oxford will be returning to the stage once again in the summer of 2013. Watch this space for more information.
STRICTLY OXFORD - 2012 Celebrities
You can still sponsor our celebrities and raise even more for Vale House! Please click their name to visit their Just Giving page.
- Lucy Baird, Special Educational Needs Coordinator
- Prof Janet Beer, Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University
- Nicola Blackwood MP
- Sally Dicketts, Principal of Oxford and Cherwell Valley College
- Shane Harding, Oxford Times Group
- Louise Oliver, Rosemary Conley Coordinator for Oxfordshire, Radio Cherwell presenter
- Sally Sheppard, Zumba teacher and representing Vale House
- Sara Thornton, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police
- William Alden, High Sheriff of Oxford
- Pete Austin, Resource Base Coordinator and SENSS
- Colin Baldwin, Chairman of Oxfordshire Rugby Football Union Association
- Euton Daley MBE, CEO/ Artistic Director Pegasus Theatre
- Kieran O’Leary, Vale House Representative
- Clinton Pugh, Restaurateur
- Samuel Swinnerton, Out of the Blue