Dancing for a purpose: Taking to the Strictly Northampton stage for Cynthia Spencer Hospice

Posted 22nd November 2023

As the anticipation builds and the spotlight of Strictly Northampton inches closer, we spoke to contestant Neil to delve into the unexpected journey that led him from the world of construction to the dance floor.

Neil shares his motivations for joining the competition, the poignant connection he discovered with Cynthia Spencer Hospice, and the experiences he’s encountered along the way…

Hi Neil! Thanks for joining us. Can you share a bit about yourself and what inspired you to participate in Strictly Northampton?

Hi! I’m a builder, and I own a company called Swiss Build. Being a builder is a far cry from being a dancer and I’ve never really done any kind of dancing apart from a little boogie in town! When I first told people that I was taking part they couldn’t believe it!

Some friends participating this year mentioned that the competition needed more male contestants, so I thought, why not? It’s all for fun and a good laugh. I hadn’t personally experienced Cynthia Spencer’s services at that point, but I’d heard great things about them.

Tell us about your personal experience with Cynthia Spencer Hospice…

About two weeks into Strictly, my dad got admitted to the hospital. They were investigating suspected cancer, and we didn’t know exactly what was wrong. Unfortunately on 9th November he was transferred to Cynthia Spencer Hospice, passing away on the 11th.

It’s surreal that I started Strictly for fun and ended up witnessing my dad’s passing in the very hospice we’re raising money for. I still can’t wrap my head around it.

Neil’s dad Francis, who was known by friends as Frank

How did the hospice help you during your dads passing?

Seeing them in action showed me just how incredible they are. The staff were absolutely outstanding – they felt more like friends. They were always considerate, letting me see my dad whenever I wanted. There was a nurse called Hannah and nothing was too much trouble for her. The personal touch they provide is unmatched. They made a tough situation a bit easier, and I’m grateful for nurses like Paul, who offered comfort. I’m just so pleased that we get to raise money for such an incredible charity.

The more money that we can raise for them the better!

What’s been the best thing about taking part in Strictly Northampton?

Beyond raising money, the best part has been the overall experience. My dance partner Varinder, and my entire group have been incredibly supportive. We’re like a family—hanging out, having parties. I’ve also met fantastic people outside my group, and we’ll stay in touch after the show. Learning a new skill has been exciting. I’ve never danced like this before, and it’s a great way to forget about everything else and I always leave rehearsals feeling happy.

Strictly Northampton dance group 4

Tell us about your fundraising…

I’m so grateful for everyone who has donated. I’ve raised £2,550 so far and collectively we have all raised over £50k. It’s amazing! and I think it’s because everyone knows how brilliant Cynthia Spencer is!

As the event night approaches, what are you most excited about, and do you have any pre-performance rituals or routines?

I am actually so exited! I can’t wait to see everyone there on the night. Because I work as a builder all I normally wear is muddy work clothes. So I’m actually looking forward to getting dressed up. I’m even getting a spray tan and my having my hair done – there’s a first time for everything!

Strictly Northampton takes part on 25th November at Royal & Derngate. The show is almost sold out but you can nab a last minute ticket HERE. 

You can donate to Neil’s JustGiving page HERE.