Hospice staff to dance their way to vital funds

TWO TAMESIDE-BASED staff at a children’s hospice will be digging out their dancing shows and going for the glitterball in a fundraising event.

Gio Castro, of Audenshaw, and Sharon Doodson will be taking part in a Strictly Come Dancing themed night in aid of Francis House.

The event will see 10 novice dancers, paired with a competitive dancer from Topaz Dance, compete for the Strictly Francis House glitter ball trophy at Shrigley Hall Hotel in Cheshire on Saturday, March 4.

Gio Castro and Beth Williams

The contestants have been through six weeks of hourly lessons at the dance studio in Stretford as they attempt to polish their dance moves into a choreographed movie themed routine.

And Gio, a senior member of the care team who manages the emotional support team which runs bereavement support groups for parents and siblings as well as providing one to one emotional support, cannot wait to strut his stuff.

“I love dancing,” said the man ‘terrified’ by the prospect of performing a jive with Beth Williams in front of 150 people and a panel of judges.

“You can leave me on the dancefloor anytime and I know I’ll survive.

“I didn’t have any formal training but as soon as it was confirmed that I would be participating for Strictly Francis House I re-joined my local gym, hoping that it will help prepare me with my stamina and flexibility.

“It has been intense and really challenges you not only physically but also mentally in terms of remembering your whole routine.”

Gio, who has worked at Francis House for 13 years and enjoyed dancing at school and being part of a dance group at university, will be joined by Sharon, as well as Angela Doyle, in the event.

Angela Doyle, Sharon Doodson and Gio Castro of Francis House

Sharon, Francis House’s director of care at Francis House, added: “I am a fan of Strictly and thought this would be a great way of raising some funds and learning a new skill.

“The thought of dancing in front of people is very scary, but I had to do something that would take me out of my comfort zone. I am definitely not a dancer and it’s a lot harder than it looks.”

Sharon has recordings of her dance partner Cameron Robinson performing the steps of their Viennese Waltz so that she can practice in her garden at home.

Sharon joined Francis House in 2015 and became registered manager in 2020, managing the care at the hospice which remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

She added: “I am proud to manage such a fantastic team at Francis House. People have a misconception of children’s hospices.

“They think it’s a very sad place, but it isn’t, it’s a very happy place with lots of joy.

“It’s about the children and young people getting the most out of their life and doing fun things with them and people enjoy coming.

“I work full-time and so does my dance partner Cameron, so we are having to work around our schedules which has been a challenge.

“We have the lesson on a weekend and then I try and practice in the evening when I get home from work.”

Tickets for the event are sold out but anyone can support the dancers in their fundraising for Francis House by donating at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/strictlyfrancishouse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *