Feathers will be flying as some of Scotland’s “movers and shakers” come together to strut their Strictly-style stuff – all in aid of a good cause.
Strictly Come Prancing, making its Edinburgh debut following successful events in Aberdeen and Ayr in 2011, will see couples such as Belinda Roberts and Ken Pritchard, pictured right, battling it out in a ballroom blitz.
Scottish transport minister Keith Brown will also be among the dancers taking to the floor, with fellow SNP MSP Christina McKelvie on his arm.
It will take place under the watchful eye of the judges, including Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall and James Thomson, owner of The Witchery and Prestonfield House Hotel.
A last allocation of tickets for the event next Saturday in the Assembly Rooms has just been released, with all proceeds going to the Aberlour Child Care Trust, which supports vulnerable families across Scotland.
Aberlour fundraising manager, Marie-Claire Thomas, told the Evening News: “Last year’s events were such a success, netting about £35,000 in all, we thought we should plan a really special big one, hence us bringing it to the Capital.
“We’re so pleased that it has coincided with the reopening of the Assembly Rooms. It’s an absolutely stunning venue and we really couldn’t have hoped for somewhere better.
“At Aberlour we work with families experiencing difficulties as a result of substance use. With us holding the flagship event in Edinburgh it was important to us and the people taking part that the money raised would be supporting vulnerable children within this community. Currently, we are working with around 35 families and 60 children across Edinburgh.
“We’re very lucky that we’re being supported by the Microsoft Scotland team, and some of their employees will also be dancing for us! The Princes Street Suites have also supported us on a long-term basis, and they have a couple in the competition too. The support of WeDo Scotland has also been invaluable and some of their employees will be taking part as well.
“All the participants have had three months of weekly dancing lessons at the MGA in Gorgie. I can’t praise the MGA enough, they have given their time and expertise at no charge.”
Mr Brown said he was looking forward to swapping the Holyrood chamber for the dance floor.
“I have absolutely no experience with dancing in public at all, other than in some of the nightclubs around Edinburgh, which are thankfully too dark for anyone to have really seen me. But as long as we can get through the dance and raise some money for this very good cause, that’s the main thing.”
Peter Ferry, manager-director at Microsoft Scotland, taking to the floor with his wife, was also keen to stress that he isn’t generally known for his “grace and poise”, but still feels they could be in with a shout: “I’m a keen sportsman and quite competitive . We’ve put a lot of work in, but I haven’t seen the other competitors dance since the group lessons we did in the beginning.
“There’s quite a varied collection of people and some are – how do I put this? – a bit older and perhaps not quite as mobile, so I thought if we did something quite fast and energetic it should give us a good chance!”
Ms Roberts, founder of WeDo Scotland, is training hard with dance partner Mr Pritchard, of Pritchard Property Consultants.
“There’s a lot of pressure – with just over a week until the competition we’ve got 45 seconds of choreography still to fill. It may not sound like a long time, but it really is when you’re trying to make up moves.”
Meanwhile, Jai McDowall is relishing his chance to swap the stage for the judging panel, following his 2011 Britain’s Got Talent victory. “It is a little strange to be on the other side of the process, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve done a few gigs before for Aberlour and I was keen to work with them again.”
With all standard tickets now sold out, an extra allocation of balcony tickets has just gone on sale at £10, with big screens making up for the restricted view. After the event, all spectators are invited to join the competitors on the main floor to dance the night away.