AMATEUR dancers are quick-stepping into the spotlight to raise money for charity.

There will be 20 couples donning their suits, gowns and dancing shoes as Bolton Hospice runs its Strictly Learn to Dance event tomorrow.

The sixth edition of the fundraiser looks to raise £35,000 after selling a total of 750 tickets, enough to fill the Premier Suite at the Whites Hotel.

This year’s event builds on the celebrity guests of previous years, with Apprentice stars Harrison Jones and Bolton’s Michaela Wain making up a panel of five judges.

Peter Hindle, aged 61, who was involved in the competition last year, said: “Learning to dance was the best thing I’ve ever done. The people you meet will be new friends, the training is fantastic fun.

“It was a night that will stay with me the rest of my life knowing that the effort by all was to raise funds for our fantastic hospice.”

Over the years the event has raised £130,000 for the hospice, and seen a range of special guest appearances, including last year’s judge, The Chase star Jenny Ryan.

This year’s panel will consist of the two celebrity guests alongside a duo of professional dance experts and a hospice trustee.

Contestants have been given 13 weeks to learn three dances for the event, with A Touch of Class Dance Studio in Little Lever providing the lessons.

Maria Passarello, event manager for Bolton Hospice, said it would be a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for the contestants.

She added: “Nobody taking part is a professional dancer and they are all doing it for different reasons. Some are dancing in memory of loved ones and some because it’s something they have always wanted to do.”

Dancers are expected to show-off their quickstep, social foxtrot and one of four specialist dances, including salsa, cha-cha, Argentine tango and rock ‘n’ roll.

Steve Jones, cover supervisor at Turton High School, explained that practising for the event was one of the most difficult things he had been involved with.

He said: “I never thought I would ever do something like this. I have two left feet and never had a dancing lesson in my life.

“I have fund-raised before for Bolton Hospice and other charities, and love doing something challenging, though I didn’t know this would be the most challenging fundraiser I have ever done.

“However, for what Bolton Hospice stands for and provides to so many people in Bolton, it was a challenge I was more than happy to attempt.”

Among this year’s contestants is Debbie Brooks, a ward clerk for the hospice, who will take part with her partner Derek Hilton.

She said: “I work at the hospice as the inpatient ward clerk and I know first-hand the wonderful work they do caring for patients and supporting their families in often very difficult circumstances.

“The whole team at the hospice are fantastic and deserve every credit for the work they do. To continue the care given we need to raise as much money as possible. We have so many outside supporters I thought it was time I did my bit as a hospice employee.”

Bolton FM will also be helping to run the event by hosting and providing technical support throughout the night.

The sold-out event starts at 7pm tomorrow.