HUNDREDS of generous dance fans gathered on Saturday night to cheer on 20 couples, who put on their dancing shoes to raise £50,000 for Bolton Hospice

Donning their satin shirts and sequins, the 40 dancers took to the stage for this year’s Strictly Learn to Dance competition. 

The Premier Suite at The University of Bolton Stadium was decked out in all of the finest Strictly décor, complete with chandeliers and disco balls galore. 

Competitors included everyone from a Bolton FM presenter raising money for the great cause to those wanting to thank the hospice for caring for friends and families during devastating times.

One thing all of the participants had in common is that they were absolute dance beginners, something new to the competition which is now in its sixth year.

The couples all took turns showing off their fabulous foxtrot, before dancing their quality quick steps to Putting on the Ritz.  

After12 weeks of training with teachers from A Touch of Class Dance Studios, who gave their time for free, the contestants performed their dances place under the watchful eyes of the judging panel. This year’s judges included Wanderers legend John McGinlay, ballroom champion Marie Sandham, International Dance Teachers Association member David Brankley and hospice trustee and former Bolton News editor Ian Savage. 

Hosted by Bolton FM’s Phil Ashcroft and Andrew Dixon, the crowd was then entertained with a variety of games, before the floor was handed to the 2018 finalists who each performed a dance.

One quick costume change later and this year’s contestants were back in the spotlight showing off their chosen specialist dance.

The couples impressed the judges with their Argentinian tango, salsa, cha cha, and rock and roll routines.  

The rock and rollers proved particularly popular with the judges, bringing in only of the only 10s across the board result of the night. 

While the judges made the difficult decision of which couple would be crowned champion, guests were treated to supper and a professional dance display. 

Combining points from the quickstep round and the specialist dance, a winner was finally revealed.

Sailing into first place after flawless Argentinian tango, radio presenter Vicky Hawkesworth and Sam Ellis were crowned the champions of the 2019 competition. 

Celebrating the pair’s big win, Ms Hawkesworth said: “I’m so amazed, I didn’t think we’d win at all!

“I’ve watched Strictly since I was young and I’ve always wanted to learn to dance. I never thought I’d get this far with it.

Mr Ellis said: “I’m over the moon, I didn’t expect it at all. The teachers called Vicky ‘Bambi’ at first!”

Ms Hawkesworth added: “The teachers are really amazing for giving us all that time to learn with them. Even without the win it would have been worth it, it’s such good and you make so many new friends. If anyone is even thinking about doing it, I’d say do it!”