A Strictly Extravaganza Gala Dinner held at the Hilton in Bournemouth has raised £25,000 for Forest Holme Hospice in Poole.
The event, which was organised by Lewis Scott Academy of Arts in memory of Lisa Hopton, who was cared for at the hospice, followed a similar format to BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, with amateur dancers performing alongside a professional dancer.
The evening saw 10 contestants, each of whom had either little or no previous dancing experience, perform in front of four judges and a sold-out crowd featuring friends, family and charity supporters. Each contestant had a connection with the hospice itself either through the care a loved-one had received there or, in the case of Lynn Makeham and Karen Johnson, work at Forest Holme as a nurse and trustee respectively.
The show opened with the group Charleston dance performed by the palliative care team based at Forest Holme and culminated with Jason Edwards scooping the glitterball trophy for his beautifully moving Waltz to the theme from Schindler’s List alongside his professional partner Madison Ingoldsby.
Jason, who performed in memory of a friend who was cared for at Forest Holme, said, "This is something I will cherish forever but it was about so much more than a competition. I have made firm friends for life each and every one of them was a winner along. Together we raised over £17,000 in sponsorship alone, for the most amazing charity, Forest Holme Hospice. The night was all about paying tribute to Lisa Hopton and Lisa this one is for you.”
Forest Holme Hospice Charity was set-up to ensure that everyone in the local community affected by a life-limiting illness or bereavement gets the care and support they need, either at home or in their dedicated hospice facility.
Kirsty Perks from the fundraising team, said, “This has been such a fantastic event to work on and we just want to thank everyone involved in making it such a success, We want to say a special thanks to Oliver Beardmore and Caitlin Heasman, who gave up many hours over several months to choreograph and train all of the dancers, as well as co-organisers Kieran Beardmore. NHS funding is limited, which is why we need to raise £1 million each year, so £25,000 will make a significant impact to help deliver the highest level of care, when and where it counts.”