THE twinkle toes of an entrepreneurial farming couple from south Worcestershire walked off with the county’s first ever dance spectacular trophy. Mark and Caron Steele from Deer Park, Eckington, near Pershore beat seven other couples to take the Strictly Worcestershire title on a glittering evening at the Chateau Impney Hotel, Droitwich.
Attended by more than 600 guests, it is hoped the charity event will eventually raise around £10,000 for Worcestershire Brest Unit Campaign and Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer. It was the brainchild of Worcester businessman Gerard Smith, who explained: “I was looking to do something different for charity. I love Strictly on the television and wondered about trying something similar in Worcestershire. It’s been 16 months in the planning, but I was very happy with the result.”
Entrants were drawn from the Worcestershire business community and after an exciting dance-off, Charlie Rodway of Lansdowne Rodway Estates and his dance partner Brigette Packer were judged runners-up with Malvern cyber security experts Andrea and Steve Borwell-Box in third place. A special prize for “audience champions” went to Kathy Leather, marketing director of the Bank House, Hotel, Bransford and her partner, former rugby player Steve Lloyd. The judging panel included Lord Digby Jones, former director general of the CBI and ITV presenter Bob Warman.
Mr and Mrs Steele run a sheep, cattle and arable farm on the slopes of Bredon Hill, combined with an award winning conference and wedding venue they have created out of redundant farm buildings. “Quite how a farmer and his wife got involved in Strictly Worcestershire is a mystery” said Mrs Steele. “ Probably the result of too much wine after dinner one night. But it was for a fantastic cause and so we battled on. With no previous dancing experience and both being a few months short of 50, it has been a challenge.
“Our dance instructor Paul Pritchard, from Dance at 8 in Pershore,was brilliant and so patient. We have had great fun and plenty of bumps and bruises. Teaching us to do the lifts was the most challenging, especially as Mark had a major spinal operation 10 years ago and so has to be careful with his back.
“The waltz was by far our most difficult dance, it looks all smooth and floaty when done property, but the footwork is very precise. On the other hand we both loved the Argentine tango, it took half the time to learn and there were fewer things to go wrong.”
The event proved such a success, Mr Smith is planning a repeat for 2015. He said: "Already five couples have made applications for entries and tables are being reserved. So watch this space.”