Strictly Banbury 2018 – The Results

It seems like only a few weeks ago that I was explaining that I had signed up to take part in Strictly Banbury 2018. Last weekend our hard work and training came to an end as we took to the stage to perform in a local theatre. A lot of effort went into this charity event from coordinating dancers and local heroes, dance training classes, organising the theatre and all of the backstage help, raffle prizes, trophies, judges and demos … the list goes on!

As this was a truly unique experience and has taken up the best part of 3 months, I wanted to share it with you. Be prepared for: #faketan #glitter #dresses #dancing & #trophies!

Supporting our charities

The reason why we all signed up to do this in the first place was to raise money for charity. We raised a combined total of £10,956.38 which is amazing! Broken down, we raised £7,961.63 for the 999 Services Benevolent Funds and £2,994.75 for Age UK.

Thank you to everyone who donated and supported us along the way. What a great team effort!


I remember the very first training session when we all huddled in the gym looking a bit nervous. In total there were 20 dancers and 20 local heroes who had little to no experience. We were partnered up based mainly on height and whether we could dance together. As you can imagine, if there’s a big height difference it’s a bit tricky to dance comfortably in hold!

With only 8 weeks of training we challenged our local heroes to learn the Samba (Latin) and American Smooth Foxtrot (ballroom) ready to compete during the show. Everyone picked up the steps pretty quickly meaning we could spend more time focusing on learning technique. The Samba is by no means an easy dance, especially for the guys, so a lot of time was spent looking at this specifically. Got to get the hip action right! It was tough but the unlimited supply of cake each week kept everyone motivated. In the weeks leading up to the show everyone put in some extra practices and classes and it the show as a whole was looking pretty good! With faketans booked (I’m pretty sure the men where more excited about this than the women when it came to it), nails ready and outfits sorted, we were almost ready for opening night…



We had 3 sell out shows across the weekend – Friday night, Saturday matinée and Saturday night so this in itself was pretty intense. At the same time, this allowed us to really enjoy the experience and perform more than once and when you spend so long training this is really important! It also gave us time to get used to performing and become comfortable in front of the audience and really go for it.

It worked in a similar way to BBC’s Strictly. There were 4 judges on the panel who scored both the Latin and Ballroom dances out of 10. The top 5 scoring couples were then called into the final to perform the Samba one last time. It was then left to the audience to vote for their favourite couple to win. However, so that we couldn’t guess which couples were going to make it into the final one round was blind. This meant that we only saw our scores for one of our dances and got comments on the second. This kept us waiting in anticipation to find out the results, and I can tell you that part was pretty nerve-racking!

Strictly Group Shot

In true showbiz style there was an opening number to get the crowd excited, our dance rounds but also demos from the juniors and professionals at Step-by-Step Dance School. This also allowed time for us to do quick changes and prepare for our next dance. You can imagine there were clothes, shoes, hairspray and make up everywhere you looked. By the time the Saturday evening show came around there was glitter EVERYWHERE.

Disclosure: Tammy even had the men queueing up for extra sparkles on their faces and outfits!

A few snaps from the performances….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Group freestyle

Alongside learning the Samba and Foxtrot, we split into 4 groups to choreograph our own freestyle dance.

The themes were; Disney, James Bond, Musicals and Bollywood.

I love all of these themes but when I found out I was in ‘team Disney’ I was so excited (who wouldn’t be)? We bounced a lot of ideas around including The Little Mermaid (kind of restricting), Beauty and the Beast (we had difficulty finding the right costumes) and finally we landed on Aladdin! We had so much fun choreographing this dance together. We managed to get in the Quickstep, Charleston, Cha Cha and Rumba so it was quite technical but it definitely came together after some (quite a few) extra practices after work.

Even better, there was a prize up for grabs for the best group freestyle. Question is, who won?

Turkish Delights FreestyleJames Bond freestlyeScoundrals freestyleBollywood freestyle

The results

In my eyes everyone was a winner. Everyone put their heart and soul into this show which you could see (once the nerves were out-of-the-way). Watching the local heroes grow from week 1, having never danced before, was amazing and proof that what I say about dancing is proven. Everyone can dance, it’s just about trying and enjoying it! However, as with every competition there is a final, and there are winners so here are those brilliant couples!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday 13 April – Evening
Louissa & Corey – 1st, Claire & Ryan – 2nd, Emma & Will – 3rd, Jess & Peter – 4th, Stacey & Connor – 5th. Group dance winners – The Punjabi Pensioners!

Saturday 14 April – Matinée
Lynn & Paul  – 1st, Wendy & Graham – 2nd, Claire & Ryan – 3rd, Tammy & Stewart – 4th, David and Eira – 5th. Group dance winners – The Punjabi Pensioners!

Saturday 14 April – Evening
Jess & Peter – 1st (WE WONNNN!), Louissa & Corey – 2nd, Rachael & John – 3rd, Emma & Will – 4th, Emma & Duncan 5th. Group dance winners….

The Punjabi Pensioners! They got the hat-trick and it was so well deserved. The audience were up on their feet dancing and cheering which is what it is all about. Well done guys!

Freestyle winners

We also had a few special awards to give out…

Most improved went to Dom.
People’s choice went to John.
Most money raised went to Jo who raised over £1000!

The celebrations continued well into the night (or morning) with a well deserved after party for all involved! Everyone was absolutely buzzing from such a brilliant weekend, you couldn’t wipe the smile from any of us. It was such a brilliant experience made even better by the fantastic individuals who organised, volunteered and took part in the event. Next stop… DVD night to watch it all back and have a giggle I’m sure!

Do you want to learn to dance?

If you fancy getting involved in the next Strictly competition or this has inspired you to take up dance lessons (which I hope it has) then you can find out more on Step by Step Dance School’s website!

If you’re not local to Oxfordshire or Northamptonshire then have a Google to find your nearest dance school!


P.s. more pictures and potentially videos coming soon!

Be:Fit London

I’ve always been into my fitness whether that’s going to the gym, dancing or just making sure that I’ve been for a walk and stretched my legs each day. This, coupled with a balanced diet makes me feel good and gives me the energy to get through my usually busy week. Staying on top of the latest health trends, whether that’s fitness or food, shakes things up and helps to keep me motivated.

This year I’m attending Be:Fit London, the UK’s only health & fitness festival for women, with my friend Becca to hear from the latest industry stars and to try out some new classes! Who’s in?

Be:Fit Festival 2018

Be:Fit London is a community of like-minded, health & fitness conscious women. Check out their Insta!

The Be:Fit festival, being hosted at the Business Design Centre in Islington from Friday 4 – Sunday 6 May, is designed to bring together this community of health & fitness conscious women and educate and inspire them with what’s happening across the industry today. The timetable is jam-packed with workout sessions, talks from industry experts and a style corner where you can suss out the latest fitness fashion trends.

Here’s just a handful of sessions that I’ve picked out from the timetable that sound interesting. This should give you a flavour of what the weekend is all about!

  • HIIT and Chill with Frame
  • Foam rolling workshop with Ten Health & Fitness
  • Q&A with Deliciously Ella
  • Emotional fitness with Josh Patterson
  • ‘From Broadway to CEO of a fitness empire’ with Ashley Verma
  • Hip Hop Yoga with ONE LDN
  • Shape up with Gabby Allen
  • The Method with Third Space (this is a must!)
  • ‘Re-nourish: building a healthy relationship with food’ with Rhiannon Lambert
  • Ride with Digme Fitness
  • ‘Lean in 15’ with The Body Coach.

I’m really excited about hearing from the experts and trying out some new classes that will hopefully change-up my routine, especially when I get back to London! I think we’ll mix it up with some dance and HIIT classes as well as yoga. I do struggle with yoga but it has so many benefits and is something that I want to enjoy, so maybe this will be the start of something new.

Roll on bank holiday weekend!


How about shaking up your bank holiday weekend with some fitness before indulging? You can either buy a weekend pass or a day pass for this event so no excuses if you can only make one day, I’m just going on the Saturday. Some of the classes are fully booked now but there are still plenty of open classes!

There are still tickets on sale so if this sounds like your thing, then round-up the girls and make it a date! Follow #befitfam.

How to be an overnight success

Before I introduce to you my chosen book for April, did anyone manage to read Call me by your name? Having finished the book, I found time to see the film and was equally blown away at the power of the story, and in particular the ending. I won’t give away any spoilers for those who haven’t seen it but it is definitely worth watching and is bound to leave you feeling inspired by love.

How to be an overnight success

Talking of inspiration, this month’s book is by the wonderfully talented Maria Hatzistefanis, called ‘How to be an overnight success’. Maria is Founder and CEO of beauty company Rodial and this book is her personal story of how she went from growing up in a small town in Greece, followed her dreams and now runs a global business in the world of beauty and fashion. Even if you’re not looking to get into this particular industry the book is packed full of advice, truths and the reality of setting up your own company. I love things like this!

Maria breaks this up into sections so that it’s really easy to read and follow. You’ll discover stories of; her childhood in Greece, her first job in fashion, being fired, moving to New York to study, getting into the world of investment and earning A LOT, setting up a business in the corner of her flat, building her brand, getting noticed, going through the notions of making difficult business decisions and then all the glamour (and hardships) that comes when you make it big. What’s particularly useful is at the end of each chapter Maria summaries her point and gives you key pieces of advice or questions so that you can start to think about your dreams and take action.

There’s something really honest about how Maria opens up about the things that went wrong on the course of her journey to where she is today but she also shares the lessons she learned from this which is really valuable. This book demonstrates that it’s incredibly hard work to be an entrepreneur and you’ll have to make sacrifices but it is also incredibly rewarding when you get it right.

Give this book a read and it will get you thinking about your future career and what you might want to pursue. It might even give you that boost that you need to take your idea to the next level.

One thing’s for sure: success does not come overnight…

March book club