Prepare for Strictly Longridge - the new "razzle dazzle red carpet" dance challenge in aid of Rosemere Cancer Foundation

A couple who run their own dance school are launching a home grown Strictly contest in homage to the popular TV dance series and as a bumper fundraiser for charity.

By Fiona Finch
Tuesday, 15th February 2022, 12:55 pm

Callam Thomson and Elissia Whitter of Precision Dance Academy hope the contest at Longridge Civic Hall will raise thousands of pounds for the Rosemere Cancer Foundation charity, which is based at the Royal Preston Hospital.

Callam, 31, a champion ballroom dancer who set up his Academy some four years ago and opened the Longridge branch last autumn, said: "The plan is we're aiming to raise £20,000."

The Hall on Calder Avenue in the town will also benefit, with 10 per cent of proceeds going to the community venue.

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Callam Thomson and Elissia Whitter have announced details of the new Strictly Longridge contest Photo: Neil Cross

Callam is hoping volunteer dancers will put their best feet forward. He said: "It will be a one night only event. The idea is to have a black tie dinner red carpet experience. We want to go all razzle dazzle to make it a night to remember. Every year it will get better and better. My idea is to get 20 non dancers and pair them up into couples ... We're going to turn complete novices into Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for one night only."

The teacher of sequence, ballroom and Latin American dance will provide 10 hours basic training for the dancers free of charge. Each will be expected to seek sponsorship. He said; "It will be like a sponsored run or walk. Each person can try and raise as much as possible. The audience will also be able to vote for the winner, paying £2 for each vote."

Elissia and Callam are hoping well known local personalities and representatives from the Rosemere charity will step up to take part in the contest.

The event will be especially dear to Elissia's family. The 22 year old grew up locally and attended Stonyhurst College and met Callam when he gave dancing demonstrations at her grandmother's dance school.

Callam and Elissia say the contest will be a red carpet razzle dazzle event Photo: Neil Cross

Callam said: "We've known each other since we were young. Elissia is now training and helping me out with the dance school. We want to bring it back because her grandparents did dance here. Her great grandparents danced as well."

Elissia's mum continued the family tradition and helped her parents organise a major dance festival which ran for decades.

The intention is to run the contest later in the year - possibly in the autumn. Callam, who is originally from Gargrave, near Skipton, said he's delighted at the welcome their new Longridge enterprise has received.He said: "It seems that kind of area where people will really help and anyone will do anything to help each other. It seems such a lovely area."

He is no newcomer to Stricly fundraising, as he explained: "I even danced for The Cheshire Housewives version of Strictly and raised money for charity."

Callam Thomson and Elissia Whitter want Longridge to step up to their Strictly challenge Photo: Neil Cross

He also helped arrange a contest in Sandbach, Cheshire, which raised £12,500 for the local hospice.

As for competitors who fear they may have two left feet reassurance is offered on the Precision Dance Academy website where the school advises: "We believe that anyone can dance, our encouragement and guidance will breed determination which is all you need to learn to dance socially and bring you success competitively."

* For more about the Precision Dance Academy see here* For details of Carl's dancing awards see hereTo subscribe to the Lancashire Post see here