What do Oxfordshire’s chief constable, a university vice-chancellor and the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon have in common?
On the night of July 15, the answer will be some very sparkly dresses and hopefully some dazzling dancing.
The first ever Strictly Oxford competition is being launched today with the aim of raising £20,000 for the Vale House hospice.
On the bill are Oxford West & Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, Oxford’s High Sheriff William Alden and Oxford Brookes vice-chancellor Janet Beer.
Owner of Cafe Coco and fellow competitor Clinton Pugh, 53, said: “My wife is a dance teacher and I can’t dance. So I thought this seemed like a good idea.
“My family thought it was an interesting decision. But it’s for a fantastic cause, so even if I’m suffering, we are raising money.”
Each of the “celebrities” will be paired with a dancer from the Step by Step dance school in Headington.
They will then have at least six practice sessions with their partners to learn a latin dance, a ballroom dance and an individual show dance.
They will perform their dances to an audience of more than 500 on Sunday, July 15, at Oxford Town Hall.
Radio Cherwell presenter Louise Oliver, 40, said: “I was a bit nervous, but now I’ve had a little bit of practice I’ll hopefully be okay.
“Naturally my children and husband fell about laughing when they saw me, but it’s a good cause so it’s worth looking a bit of an idiot for.”
Last month, Vale House, a specialist dementia care home, launched a £2.5m fundraising drive to secure its future.
The not-for-profit home was set up in 1990 in Botley by a group of volunteers to provide care for people profoundly affected by dementia.
Over the past 20 years, the number of people living with dementia in Oxfordshire has soared and the home moved to a purpose-built 40-bed, £5m centre in Sandford in February.
Joint organiser Mary Carey said: “The hope is that this will generate a lot of interest in the hospice and the work it does. Everyone has heard of other hospices, but Vale House often gets overlooked and we would like to change that. Dementia is something people may find less glamourous, but it affects everyone. The work done at Vale House is incredible.”
Tickets went on sale on the Vale House website on May 1. Television entertainer Christopher Biggins will be the compere for the night.
Each celebrity will also be given their own Just Giving website where people can support them.
Competitor and Oxford & Cherwell Valley principal Sally Dicketts said: “My mother has Alzheimer’s so this is a cause close to my heart. I’m very nervous, though hopefully I will have lots of support from staff and pupils.”