THEY’VE donned sequins, fancy frocks and experienced complete meltdowns... but tomorrow the Strictly Oxford finalists will be dancing to win.

Sixteen people will take to the floor with their partners from Headington’s Step By Step Dance School in a fundraising evening at New Theatre tomorrow, inspired by BBC1’s hit show Strictly Come Dancing.

The dancers have been practising the jive, the American smooth waltz and a free dance every week for the past six weeks at the dance school in preparation for the show and all proceeds will go to Vale House nursing home in Sandford, which cares for dementia sufferers and their families.

One of the contestants is Ross Elder, 38, from Jericho, founder of the website Holiday Lettings.

He said: “I’ve spent all my life avoiding dance floors so Strictly Oxford is giving me the opportunity to tackle something new whilst raising money for a good cause.

“I’m feeling extremely nervous but also very excited.”

Another contestant, Shamus Donald, the regional managing director for Oxford Mail publisher Newsquest Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, is feeling “pretty terrified.”

He said: “I’m nervous but I’m also looking forward to it.

“It’s been great fun so far and I have found it very physically demanding.”

The 57-year-old from Oxford is paired with Gemma, who he said was a “wonderful dance partner.”

He added: “I thought I was starting to get the hang of it recently until I experienced a complete meltdown in the American smooth waltz – I blame the heatwave.

“I was rescued by Gemma Leggett and by the understanding and support of my darling wife.”

Last year’s event raised £37,000 for Vale House via donations to the dancers’ individual JustGiving pages and from ticket sales.

Jane Cranston, fundraiser and chairwoman of the Vale House appeal committee, said: “It’s going to be fantastic.

“We’re aiming to raise about the same amount of money this year and we’re all so excited about it.”

Vale House moved from Botley to new £5.4m premises in Sandford last year and Miss Cranston and the fundraising committee have the challenge of raising £2.4m – with £1.7m raised to date.

The judges at this year’s Strictly Oxford are dance champions David Roberts and Andrea Law, Ian Banham and BBC Radio Oxford’s Bill Heine.

Kat Orman, from BBC Radio Oxford, and Countdown’s Susie Dent are hosting the evening, which starts at 6.30pm. Mr Elder is dancing with Step By Step Dance School’s Hannah Leggett, whose sister Gemma is dancing with Mr Donald.