North East celebrities will again be shimmying their way across the dance floor to raise money for St Oswald’s Hospice.
Nine famous faces, including former Newcastle United player Steve Howey, England and Durham cricketer Steve Harmison and BBC Radio Newcastle presenters Sue Sweeney and Jonathan Miles, will be putting their best foot forward next February for a special one-off Celebrity Strictly dance night.
Based on the popular BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, this will be the second time regional personalities have dusted off their soft shoes and donned their sequins in aid of St Oswald’s.
A similar sell-out Celebrity Strictly Dine and Dance event held last year raised a massive £60,000 and was won by BBC Look North presenter Jeff Brown.
Having proved so popular St Oswald’s, which provides specialist care for North East adults and children with progressive, life limiting conditions from its base in Gosforth, has decided to revive the winning format.
This time the celebrities will battle it out in front of a panel of judges including TV personality and agony aunt Denise Robertson, Jeff Brown and dance champions Michael Conway and Mavis Whiteside to be crowned the St Oswald’s Strictly star 2012.
But ultimately it will be the audience at Gateshead’s Hilton Hotel on Valentine’s weekend who will decide who walks off with the coveted title.
The evening on February 12 will be hosted by TV presenter Kim Inglis and compere Steve Walls and promises to bring all the glitz and glamour of the BBC’s Strictly to the North East England for one night only.
This year’s celebrities, who also include ITV’s Alex Watson and Sarah Kelly, Real Radio’s Kelly Scott, Viz co-founder Simon Donald and Capital Radio’s Guy Howard, will undergo a rigorous training programme to perfect their salsas and sambas in preparation for their performance.
Last year’s Strictly sold out within a month and organisers expect tickets for the 2012 event to be equally sought after. The audience will have the chance to join the celebrity couples on the dance floor to boogie the night away following the competition.
A table of 12 costs £900 while single tickets can be bought for £80 each.
Events like this are St Oswald’s main source of income. As a registered charity, annual running costs are more than £8m, of which over £6m must be raised through voluntary giving.
Families from across the region can benefit from the hospice’s services, for which there is no charge, ensuring the care provided is available for everyone.