Strictly Sensational! Our reporter and partner win Strictly Learn to Dance competition

Strictly Sensational! Our reporter and partner win Strictly Learn to Dance competition

Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp and photographer Cathy Brown are delighted to win Strictly Learn to Dance

Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp and photographer Cathy Brown in action

Celebrity judge Maxine Peake gives top marks

First published in News
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , politics reporter

THE glitterballs were out on Saturday night as hundreds of people attend the second annual Bolton Hospice Strictly Learn to Dance competition.

The glitzy event saw 12 couples take to the dance floor in front of more than 650 people and celebrity judge Maxine Peake, after 10 weeks of training.

Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp and freelance photographer Cathy Brown were crowned the winners with their rock’n’roll jive, while couple Helen Morgan and Greg Brown came second after performing the samba.

Alice Atkinson, a fundraiser for Bolton Hospice, estimated that the competition at the Reebok Stadium had raised more than £15,000 for the charity — and they’re already planning next year’s competition.

She said: “We’re delighted with how the evening went.

"This year was bigger and better than ever before, and the standard of the dancing was out of this world — we were so impressed with how the students coped.

“The atmosphere was brilliant, and Liam and Cathy were deserving winners.”

The couples were put through their paces by dancing instructors A Touch of Class in Little Lever for almost three months before Saturday’s event.

As well as the dancing competition, there was a special guest appearance by Shameless actress Alice Barry, who auctioned off a signed copy of her autobiography, as well as performances from professional dancers.

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Winner Cathy, from Leigh, said she’s already found a spot for her trophy in her studio in Astley.

She and Liam were also awarded the ‘Audience Choice’ award, calculated by the number of votes made via a £1 donation from family and friends.

The 37-year-old said: “I’m chuffed to bits. I feel really honoured.

“It was a fantastic night – we had some amazing support in the room and I could really feel the love from family and friends.

“I’m going to keep dancing, but for the next six weeks I’m be training for the Manchester 10k, which I’m running for The Christie.”

You can see all our pictures from the event here.

After winning Bolton Hospice’s Strictly Learn to Dance tournament with his dance partner Cathy Brown, cha-cha-charming Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp reflects on an amazing night

Where do I begin? When I woke up on Sunday morning, with a mild hangover and a takeaway pizza box by my side — an onlooker would have been forgiven for refusing to believe they were looking at a dance competition winner.

I have made no secret of the fact it was not by my own volition that I signed up for Bolton Hospice’s charity dance tournament, consisting of 10 weeks of lessons and a grand final in front of 650 people, but I am now very glad that my news editor at the paper “gently encouraged” me to take part.

Once I met my dance partner Cathy at the first session, I knew that we were going to get on very well and have a lot of fun.

What I didn’t know is that we would go on to win both the overall competition and the audience award.

My initial aim was simply to not look a prat, particularly with Silk actress Maxine Peake looking on.

All credit goes to Cathy and the dance teachers at A Touch of Class in Little Lever who devised a great routine.

It was my job to just make sure I remembered it all which, thankfully, I did on the night.

Saturday’s event at the Reebok was nothing short of spectacular.

The meticulous planning that went into it by Sally Wilson at Bolton Hospice and everyone else involved was incredible and everyone who attended has told me they had one of their best nights out in ages.

It is safe to say that I was a little on the nervous side before we began dancing but, with my fellow reporters and family and friends cheering me on, I was able to overcome the nerves and, by the end, I seemed to think I was Bolton’s answer to Fred Astaire.

Ahem, I think I have a way to go yet.

The most important thing is, of course, the brilliant cause that everyone involved was supporting, which is Bolton Hospice and the vital care it provides.

I know all my fellow dancers were proud to be representing the hospice on the night and they all did fantastically well.

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