THE young winners of Saturday night’s Strictly Learn to Dance competition are basking in their victory, after raising hundreds of pounds for Bolton Hospice.

Not only did Victoria Hawkesworth and Sam Ellis beat 19 other pairs to the trophy, together they raised over £900 on their Just Giving pages and in sponsorship for the hospice.

The couple have been together for two years and both jumped at the chance of participating in the popular contest, held at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The 12 weeks of intense training for the event saw them learning two dances, a quickstep and a special Argentinian tango. The pairs were marked on both dances on the night, the scores were then combined and finalists were chosen to go head-to-head, dancing again one last time.

Ms Hawkesworth, 22 from Little Lever, is a presenter for Bolton FM and has been an avid fan of Strictly Come Dancing for years. The Bolton Hospice version of the contest was the perfect opportunity.

Ms Hawkesworth said: “I’ve worked on the Bolton FM tech team doing the vision mixing for the event for the past three years and always wanted to give it a go myself. This year was the time to take the plunge.”

Boyfriend Sam needed no convincing. Ms Hawkesworth said: “He was pretty laid back and said yes straight away! He ended up loving the experience!”

Mr Ellis, aged 23, said: “It’s a great event, I’ve never been interested in dancing so I’m surprised I’ve had as much fun as I have.”

Although the pair’s tango performance earned tens across the board from the judges on Saturday, the couple’s road to success has not been easy during training leading up to the big night.

Ms Hawkesworth said: “It was all right but we weren’t naturals, we were very wooden.

“Some times we had good weeks and other weeks we couldn’t do anything right. A lot of people commented on just how rubbish we had been at first and how far we had come.

Nicknamed “Bambi” in her training, Ms Hawkesworth added: “Trevor, one of the teachers, would always laugh at how un-elegant I was when I attempted the moves he showed us!”

Mr Ellis said: “I’m still in shock! I still can’t believe we got called back for any of the dances, let alone won.”

Ms Hawkesworth said: “I honestly think I’ve made some amazing friends, hopefully for life.

“I’d also say if your confidence is something you struggle with, then this is something that really helps. It sky rockets your confidence.

“Through the friends you make and the cause, you are jumping in the deep end and proving to yourself you can achieve things.

“It’s a commitment but it’s worth every second.”

Ms Hawkesworth is looking forward to continuing her new dancing career, but says she’s relieved to have “a bit less pressure than this experience.”