Tadcaster waitress dances to win

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A Tadcaster waitress served up fancy footwork to win the first ever Strictly St Leonard’s dance contest at the Riley Smith Hall recently.

Jannine Lawrance, 32, partnered Matthew Foote, who she only met through the contest, and the pair were declared the overall winners of the finals against 13 other couples.

“To be in the final three was mind blowing enough but to hear our names announced as the glitter ball winners was phenomenal,” said Janine who admits to being a huge fan of BBC Strictly Come Dancing.

“I think even now it’s still sinking in. In my eyes though we are all winners and each couple should be very proud of themselves for what we all achieved.

“To be part of such a fantastic evening knowing that we all raised money for an amazing charity will be a memory I will cherish forever.

“A massive round of applause needs to go to the St Leonard’s team and volunteers for their outstanding hard work organising this brilliant event.”

The glittering final, played out before a sell-out crowd of 350 people to raise over £25,000 for the York-based hospice, was the culmination of six weeks of rehearsals thanks to tuition from the award-winning North Leeds Dance Academy. Contestants did one group dance followed by a Waltz and a Cha Cha Cha in their individual couples.

A judging panel made up of professional dancers Rachel Carpenter, Chris Robinson and head judge Darren Hodgson selected winners in three categories.

Most improved went to Gerry and Paul Rook and the Top Fundraising award went to Liz Foote and James Sykes who alone have raised over £2,500 for the Hospice. They then selected a final three to dance again before announcing the overall winners.

Jannine’s dance partner, who was introduced to her by the hospice organisers, was 28-year-old Network Rail Operations Manager Matthew.

“I was so shocked, and still am, but it’s such a nice feeling.

“As it turns out both myself and Jannine are quite competitive as we’re both sporty and used to wanting to win, but with this we just wanted to take part and get through.”

He added: “It was so unexpected when we got through to the final three – we weren’t prepared to dance again at all.

“Then when they were announcing the winners I was all ready to clap, then they called out our names. It was such a shock but it’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever won. I’ve had a smile on my face ever since.”

Anyone interested in taking part in next year’s Strictly St Leonard’s, can call the Hospice fundraising team on 01904 777 777 or email fundraising@stleonardshospice.org.uk