Fundraising spectacular was Strictly the best

thisisoxfordshire: Winners Lynn Knapp and her dancing partner Andrius Backys Winners Lynn Knapp and her dancing partner Andrius Backys

OXFORD stars put their best foot forward with a sizzling dance competition to raise thousands of pounds for a nursing home.

Bringing the glitz and glamour of BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing to life on the New Theatre stage, 16 couples wowed judges and voters with their costumes and moves.

Sunday’s dance competition saw local names raise £25,000 after learning to dance in just six weeks.

Being lead by the semi-professional dancers from Headington’s Step By Step Dance School, the contenders learned three dances – the cha-cha-cha, tango, and an individual choreography.

While the sequins and hairspray are fun, their efforts were all to raise money for Vale House, a nursing home in Sandford-on-Thames, that provides specialist end-of-life care for people with dementia.

Event organiser Jane Cranston said: “We’ve raised about £25,000 so far, although the money does still keep coming in after the event.”

This is the third time Strictly Oxford has raised money for Vale House through ticket sales and sponsorship, with the total coming to more than £100,000.

Ms Cranston said: “We’re really happy with that, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s to raise even more.”

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Head of home at Vale House Tricia O’Leary said: “We’re thrilled with the amount raised.

“We took out a huge loan to have this new care home two years ago, and we’re trying to reduce our mortgage.

“We still owe about £1m.”

She thanked Strictly Oxford’s organisers, and added: “It’s so encouraging to see how many people in Oxford care about our home here.

“As well as being a great fundraiser, this is brilliant because it raises awareness of our need for funds and dementia in general.”

Ms Cranston said: “It was a triumph, a really, really good evening.

“The dancing was spectacular. The standard of the dancers was really high, very professional.

“Any one of the five finalists could have won.

“The judges gave them all straight 10s, so it really was down to the audience vote. We were all on tenterhooks.”

Lynn Knapp, headteacher at Windmill Primary School, waltzed off with the top spot.

She said: “To win was a big surprise, and just the icing on the cake.

“I really want to carry on with it, not just spend all this time learning a new skill to let it disappear again.”

Fellow competitor was Jeremy Smith, features editor for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times, who came joint sixth, having just missed out on the five finalist spots.

He said: “It was one of the most exhilarating, gruelling and stomach-churning moments of my life.”

“It was a white-knuckle ride of tinsel, sequins and fake chest hair. I had a ball.”

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