Watch your tongue Craig Revel Horwood and watch out Alesha Dixon because Derry’s Pink Ladies will be turning on the glitz and glam when they host their own Strictly Come Dancing competition during the city’s Jazz Festival in April.
The Pink Ladies is a local support group for people affected by breast cancer and group coordinator, Karen Mullan, explained that an event such as Strictly Come Dancing is something that the group has been thinking about for quite some time.
“It’s something that we’ve always talked about so this year we said why not?,” said Karen. “The amount of interest we’ve had has been phenomenal and I think that I speak for everyone when I say that we’re all looking forward to it.”
Karen has spent the last few weeks contacting public figures around Derry and asking them if they would be interested in taking part in the showpiece on April 29.
“So far, local Derry City Councillors Mark H Durkan and Colin Kelly have agreed to take part. Fr. Chris Ferguson will also be strutting his stuff and local solicitor Melissa Barr is dancing too,” confirmed Karen. “The Pink Ladies will also take part on the night; they are going to be doing a synchronised two step and I think that along with the help of professional dance teachers Bill and Marie Hickey they will look and dance brilliantly.”
Although the event is not for another three months, each participant will have to endure tough training and on the night of the event a video of each couple’s road to the final will be screened inside the marquee.
“Declan Nelis from Bogside Videos has agreed to film all of the participants and the Pink Ladies in training. So on the night we will show them in training and how over the weeks and months they got better and better. I’m sure there’ll be a few falls and slips but it’ll make great viewing on the night.
“I have to praise everyone who has got involved because they are going to have to work really hard over the coming weeks. Everyone is showing real dedication and hopefully on the night everyone will perform really well and who knows they may even turn a few heads too.”
The Strictly Come Dancing event will be part of the programme of events at this year’s Jazz Festival.
Karen explained that because they could not find a venue large enough to host the event, they have decided to hire a large marquee and have the function at the Gasyard Centre in the Brandywell.
“It’s a great opportunity for the area because although the Jazz Festival is great for the city it never really comes to areas such as the Brandywell and the Bogside. This will all change in April because the marquee will be built on the green area beside the Gasyard Centre and we’ll be ale to welcome over 400 guests; it’s going to be great.
“The other important thing to remember is that because the event is officially part of the Jazz Festival we have been able to secure a really good band. They’re called The Slammers Maximum Jive Band and they’re really, really good. We thought that if we are going to do this then we might as well do it right.”
Veronica Deeney works at the Gasyard Centre and after agreeing to take part she was paired with local councillor Mark H Durkan.
“My pre-condition for taking part was that I didn’t get paired with someone smaller than me so I was delighted when I heard that I am to dance with Mark H Durkan; it’s going to be great craic.
“It’s really exciting and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not interested in winning, as far as I am concerned it’s the taking part that counts,” said Veronica sarcastically. “Of course I’d be delighted if we won but I think I’ll be playing my cards close to my chest. I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”
Mary Breslin also works in the Gasyard Centre and she has pledged her support by organising the dresses, props and managing the stage.
“It’s all really exciting,” said Mary. “I’ve been tasked with hunting out nice dresses and outfits. We are going to see what we can find in some of the charity shops and we have a few women we know who will be able to tidy them up and make them really glamorous.”
Karen, Veronica and Mary are all fans of the television version of Strictly Come Dancing. They all agreed that if they couple their enthusiasm for the dancing with their determination to raise money for the Pink Ladies, the event will be a massive success.
“The people of this area and Derry are extremely supportive and generous when it comes to the Pink Ladies. They know about the good help and support that the group offers. I have no doubt that the tickets for the event will sell like hot cakes but we will try our best to make sure that everyone who wants to come along can do so,” said Karen.
She added: “It’s going to be a great event and I have no doubt that everyone involved will have a great night’s craic. Not everything is finalised so if anyone out there is interested in getting involved, lending their support or making suggestions then we would love to hear from them.”
For more information on the Pink Ladies’ Strictly Come Dancing event in April 29 phone Karen Mullan or Veronica Deeney at the Gasyard Centre on 028 71 262 812.