The doors did not open until 6.30pm – but a queue was forming outside the Clickimin for last night’s Strictly Hearty Dancing by 5pm.
The event went up against the BBC show from which it gets its name and format and, in Shetland at least, it may well have won out.
Tickets were so in demand that some spectators had to be seated in the bowls room, having the events beamed through to them on big screens.
After the success of Strictly Clan Dancing in 2009 this weekend the people of Shetland were treated to another instalment of the glamorous entertainment and charity extravaganza. This time British Heart Foundation was to be the benefactor of the generous work.
Barbara Osborne, BHF’s head of volunteer fundraising for Scotland and Northern Ireland, travelled from Edinburgh to be in attendance, and also to honour the event’s organiser Diane Watt. Diane is the longest serving BHF volunteer fundraiser in Scotland, with over 40 years’ work for the organisation.
Mrs Osborne said that she was “very impressed with all of the volunteers. It’s really incredible that such a small group of volunteers have been able to achieve so much.”
She added further praise for the organisers saying: “The attention to detail is amazing. Everyone here is being treated to a great night of entertainment.”
• Head over to our Facebook page to see videos of some of the dancing action.
The evening kicked off in good humour with the Shetland Strictly Orchestra, welcomed to the stage with the quip: “They’ve been playing for six years and tonight is their second performance.”
After the band were in position we were introduced to our host and hostess George Webster and Elaine Jamieson.
Next up were the four judges, among whom was “celebrity” contender from the last instalment of the event Tavish Scott.
The first round of dancing consisted of six couples performing in front of the jam packed main hall in the Clickimin. Nerves were inevitable but the crowd dished out generous applause from the very beginning and the dancers soon settled into the event.
All the performers looked glamorous and fashionable with long, often sequined, gowns for the women, and bow ties and waistcoats for the men.
The standout routine of the first round came from the partnership of John Tait and Stella Oldbury. John came onto the dancefloor kitted in a hard hat and hi-vis jacket.
Three women sat in chairs at the edge of the dancefloor and John auditioned each partner one by one, ditching the first two because they fell well below his tall frame. Finally when auditioning with Stella, John found a partner his own height and from there the two eased into their routine.
After the dancing was done the audience were treated to a display from the Shetland Baton Twirlers who performed with a great deal of energy and co-ordination.
While they performed many young people from organisations such as the Boys’ Brigade mulled around the hall with collection buckets. People were encouraged to put a pound into the bucket of the contestants they wanted to stay in. Through this the organisers found a clever way to make the event interactive and raise money.
After the votes were counted it was revealed that the first couple leaving the event was that of, the evening’s organiser, Diane and her partner Paul. This drew sympathy from all around the room, but as Diane told hostess Elaine before leaving the stage: “The real winner tonight is the British Heart Foundation.”
Round two saw all of the dancers kick it up a notch. Shane Jamieson, the winner of the previous instalment, performed a quickstep with Sophie Moar. The dance was completed with an impressive spin and lift which led to one of the judges commenting: “I actually thought he was going to send you into orbit.”
Despite their valiant attempts it was, however, Sophie and Shane who left us at the end of round two.
During the second interval Shetlander and star of BBC’s The Voice Lisa Ward was on hand to perform a couple of acoustic covers. She opened with a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah before finishing off with a powerful take on Candi Staton’s You’ve Got the Love.
By round three the stakes were raised. After these dances the competitors would be reduced from four couples to two. The crowd were also starting to get even more into the event with any poor marks from the judges drawing pantomime reactions.
Round three was closed out by Mrs Watt’s grandson Bryan Irvine and his partner Kerry Sjoberg. They performed an energetic samba which drew the loudest cheers of the night and even had some of the audience on their feet applauding. The dance garnered glowing reviews from the judges with all four giving them a perfect 10.
In the final interval Ain’t Misbehaving subdued the now riled up crowd with some jazz. Their showing coupled strong vocals with competent and smooth backing music.
The final was announced as John and Stella versus, now crowd favourite, partnership of Bryan and Kerry. Both couples performed their final dances once more before a final trip around the hall was made by the young fundraisers.
Mrs Osborne took to the stage briefly before the announcement of the winners to thank the event’s organisers and to talk about the importance of the work that British Heart Foundation does. She finished by saying how grateful she was to everyone for coming and urged all attendees to donate generously.
After all this it was finally time to find out who had won. A hush fell over the crowd as the hosts were informed quietly by the adjudicators which couple had raised the most funds.
Finally, it was announced that Bryan and Kerry were the successful couple at this year’s instalment.
They did a lap of honour around the hall before Mrs Watt came on stage to express her gratitude to all attendees, express how happy she was that her grandson had won and, most importantly, announce that on the night they had been able to raise over £11,000 for a truly worthy cause.