STEP aside Abbey Clancy, move over Brendan Cole — there is a new crop of Strictly stars in town.

Meet the 12 couples who are putting their best feet forward in Strictly Learn to Dance as they bid to raise money for Bolton Hospice.

The pairs have started their training, meeting once a week at A Touch of Class dance studio in Little Lever, and learning from the expertise of instructor Teresa Croasdale and her experienced staff.

The nervous novices have 10 weeks to master three dances before stepping out for a showpiece finale at the Bolton Whites Hotel, Horwich, on Saturday, April 5.

Each contestant has been challenged by Bolton Hospice to raise £400 — which is the cost of keeping the centre open for only one hour.

Among the contestants is The Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp, who will be hoping to follow in the steps of reporter Melanie Wallwork, who competed in last year’s event.

Dennis, aged 69, and Doreen Noble, aged 65, from Little Lever

Mr Noble said: “We are looking forward to it enormously, the reasons are twofold. It is a great cause, and who knows when we might have to avail ourselves of the services of the hospice.

It is also a great opportunity to learn to dance. Doreen is a bit nervous, but excited as well. Me? I’m too laid back.”

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Matthew Fentem aged 39, and Annie Fentem, aged 44, from Smithills

Mrs Fentem said: “Personally, I am taking the challenge on as I have had a close friend and know others in the hospice.

"It’s for local people and we are learning a new skill, which we enjoy. It’s something we can do together as a newly married couple.”

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Helen Morgan, aged 50 and Greg Brown, aged 49, from Chorley

“We are taking on the challenge to continue our support to raise money for Bolton Hospice and to learn a new skill, improve our fitness and meet new people.

"We’re feeling nervous as we learn more about the challenge and realise dancing with a partner is completely different from dancing individually.”

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Debra and Peter Langley, of Bradford Road, Great Lever

“We decided to take this on as a fun way to raise money for a fantastic cause.

"It was either learn to dance or run a marathon, so we opted to take the tough challenge.

"We are feeling apprehensive about learning three dances to a good standard in only 10 weeks, and even more worried about our outfits, and whether we will have enough time for the ‘fake tanning’.”

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Ann Barnes, volunteer at Bolton Hospice shop, and Will Clarke, memberships manager

Ms Barnes said: “I have been volunteering at one of the hospice shops. There is a lovely atmosphere, and the staff and volunteers are hardworking and friendly.

"I am keen to grab opportunities and face new challenges. So it is great that I can learn to dance and raise money for such a worthy cause.

Mr Clarke said: “I’m taking on the challenge in memory of my good friend, Neil Bentley, who lost the fight against cancer three years ago.

"I’m feeling nervous and think I’ll have to put in a lot of extra rehearsals. I am determined not to let down my newly found dance partner.

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Susan Clarke, from Harwood, and Trevor Croasdale, aged 59, from Bradley Fold

Ms Clarke said: “I am looking forward to the challenge of raising funds for a very worthwhile cause.

“My local pub, The White Horse in Harwood, is very supportive indeed, raising money each year for the hospice.

"I think we have some very competitive couples this year, so it will be quite nerve-wracking but fun on the night.”

Mr Croasdale said: “I took up the challenge having lost two colleagues to cancer — and because an extra dance partner was needed.

"I feel absolutely terrified that my lack of dancing skills will be exposed.”

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Yasmin Walker and Bob Hunt, a GP from Halliwell and a trustee of the hospice

Dr Hunt said: “As a GP I am grateful for the care that Bolton Hospice has given to many of my patients over the years.

"But also I know how much this costs as it is so labour intensive, so I am pleased to help. As a novice in dance, I am daunted but determined to learn a new skill before I hit 60.”

Ms Walker said: “I’m no marathon runner so when I was given the opportunity to dance and raise money for the hospice, I took it.

"Despite only being in my 40s I have lost a few friends of similar age to cancer. I have seen the care and support offered by the hospice and I’m looking forward to raising mone.”

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Liam Thorp, aged 25, Bolton News reporter from Manchester and Cathy Brown, aged 37, a photographer from Pennington

Mr Thorp said: “I was volunteered for the contest while I was off work. I have really enjoyed the competition so far and I think me and Cathy are working well together, as well as having a right laugh and raising money along the way.”

Ms Brown said: “I have a passion for photography and dancing. Strictly Learn To Dance ticks all my boxes and knowing you’re taking part to raise money for Bolton Hospice feels rewarding.

"I am looking forward to learning new dances, shopping for costumes and shoes, and getting to know new friends.”

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Joseph Hossein and Naureen Riaz, from Asons Solicitors
Mr Hossein said: “I couldn’t think of a better activity to help raise money.

"I may not be the best dancer in the world, but I’m sure I’ve got some rhythm.

"I am a tad nervous about the finale but I’m sure it will be fun. Most importantly, I’m just grateful to be part of such a great cause.” 

Ms Riaz said: “I want to help raise as much money as I can for the hospice as it’s a great service for people who are in need of it.

"I’m feeling really excited and ready to take on the challenge of learning how to ballroom dance.”

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Tony Patten, aged 76, from Egerton and Frieda Armstrong, from Wigan Road, Bolton

Mr Patten said: “My wife Jane was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and she died in March — I actually presented the award for Strictly last year, which had Jane’s name on it.

"When I was told they were short of men this year, I thought ‘Why not?’ I’m doing this for Jane, the care she received was brilliant.”

Mrs Armstrong said: “My husband was in the hospice in 2007 before he died. The care was exceptional, it was very dignified.

"I’m a volunteer at the shop in Horwich and I thought ‘oh I fancy that, i’m quite impulsive.

"We are enjoying the social side of it and I feel like I am giving a little back for the care my husband got.”

The Bolton News:

Beverley Andrew, aged 55 and David Walsh, aged 53

Ms Andrew said: “I’m a big fan of Strictly, so this was an ideal opportunity to raise money for an amazing organisation in a fun way.

"The hospice provides a wonderful service and if we can raise lots of money for, that would be fabulous.

Mr Walsh said: “My father passed away in the hospice and I was overwhelmed by the dedication, care and emotional support my father and our family received.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of sorting my two left feet out plus raising money for a wonderful place.”

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Debra Jones, aged 43, from Bradshaw, and Tony Judge

Ms Jones, a palliative care occupational therapist at Bolton Hospice, said: “It is a privilege and a pleasure to work with the dedicated staff at the hospice and to see patients there and out in the community.

“I have always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance and this is a fantastic opportunity to do so whilst raising the profile and necessary funds to enable the Hospice to continue with their invaluable work.

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