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Burntwood dancer helps raise money for St Giles Hospice

A talented dancer from Burntwood has helped to raise more than £5,300 for a charity based near Lichfield.

Coco Watkins and her dance partner Tracey Spare

Coco Watkins and her dance partner Tracey Spare

Coco Watkins was among 20 dancers going toe-to-toe to become Cha-Cha-Champions during St Giles Hospice’s very first Strictly Come Learn to Dance performance at the town hall in Burton-upon-Trent.

Friends, relatives and supporters packed the venue to enjoy a glittering night of sparkling shimmies and fabulous footwork, and to find out who would be crowned champions by a panel of judges and the audience vote.

St Giles Hospice was a winner too, as ticket sales from the sold-out show combined with sponsorship collected by the dance stars saw £5,366 raised to support its caring services for local people living with cancer and other serious illnesses.

Forty-seven-year-old Coco, a PA for National Express in Birmingham, and her dance partner Tracey Spare, who runs his own PR company, spent 12 weeks in the run-up to the finale being coached under the expert instruction of Clive and Sam Keay from Stardust Dance Academy.

She said:

“The coaching was tremendous – Sam really tailored it so everybody fully understood what they were doing. I’d no experience of dancing whatsoever but I was really looking forward to learning – like everyone I’ve got hit by the Strictly bug!

“On the night because we’d all worked together over the weeks we’d built up quite a good camaraderie and we were all there supporting each other. It was really exciting, though it was amazing how the nerves kicked in when it was your turn to dance. But it was fine once we’d started.

“I’d got friends and family there and work colleagues as I’d been fortunate enough to get a charity grant from work. My auntie who receives treatment as a night patient at St Giles was also there and it was nice for her to come along and see how we were raising money to help.”

Coco’s links with the hospice date back to her days in sixth form when she was involved in various projects to help raise money for St Giles and unfortunately over the years she’s lost several friends who were helped by the hospice.

She added:

“St Giles is always close and dear to me and I’ve taken part in various other things to support it – but this was a really different way to raise money and make people aware of the hospice.”

This year’s Strictly Come Learn to Dance winners were Val Williamson from Erdington, who works in St Giles’ shop in Walmley, and her dance partner, Paul Boden.

Sarah Shelton, Fundraiser for St Giles Hospice, said:

“Our own Strictly stars gave their counterparts on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing a real run for their money – there were no Ann Widdecombe moments here!

“It was so much fun that the dancers, judges and audience had big smiles across their faces all evening, and we are already looking forward to Strictly Come Learn to Dance 2011.”

New competitors are being urged to sign up while they can for next year’s Strictly Come Learn to Dance event and anyone interested in taking part can contact Sarah Shelton on 01543 432538 or email

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.