Strictly Leuchie total steals the show

A glittering dance competition based on the hit TV show Strictly Come Dancing has raised £23,000 before costs for Leuchie House respite centre.

Nearly 450 people went along to watch the Strictly Leuchie event on Friday 8 September where 11 amateur dancers, each paired with a professional partner, took to the floor of Haddington Corn Exchange.

The couples were paired up at the end of June and have spent the last 10 weeks learning a routine and perfecting their moves. Each pair had a different dance style including the jive, the American smooth, swing, modern jive, Irish and disco.

On the night, after each couple had performed their routine, the audience voted for their three favourites. After the votes were counted, the three finalists took to the floor again in a dance off.

Sam Lowe, a lobster fisherman, and his partner Leigh Morrison performed a fast-paced Charleston featuring lifts, back flips, cartwheels and even a uni-cycle! Maxine Kinnaird, a dog-groomer and farmer’s wife, and her partner Ann-Marie Hay impressed the audience with a high-kicking Irish dance. And neurologist Robin Grant and partner Rebecca Bowden did a colourful African-themed modern jive to the soundtrack from The Lion King.

The audience then voted again choosing Sam Lowe and Leigh Morrison as their favourite dancing couple and the winners of the competition and the Strictly trophy.

Sam is 25 and grew up in Gullane. In the summer, he works as a lobster fisherman and during the winter months, he's a self-employed tree surgeon. In his spare time, he trains in a circus and teaches teeter boarding. When asked why he decided to take part in this year's competition, Sam said, "I'm always looking for something new, fun and exciting to do!"

His partner, Leigh Morrison is a busy mum to 8 year old Finlay and works part time as a Pupil Support Teacher in Midlothian.  She has enjoyed dancing over the years in a number of amateur musicals.

This is the tenth year that a Strictly-themed dance competition has been organised for charity by farmer’s wife, Bett Morrison from Gifford, who chose Leuchie House to be the beneficiaries of the competition in 2017. She said: “What an amazing night of dancing! Sam and Leigh wowed the packed Corn Exchange with a show stopping Charleston routine full of tricks and flicks to win the Niall Fairgrieve memorial trophy. The other amateur finalists, Maxine Kinnaird and Robin Grant were also outstanding with an exhausting Irish dance routine and an amazing Lion King extravaganza. All the contestants were outstanding and the atmosphere was electric. To have raised so much for Leuchie House is wonderful – they certainly came out on top!”

Leuchie House’s Fundraising Development Manager, Lana Bambridge said: “We are thrilled that Strictly Leuchie has raised so much for our charity. It was a wonderful night and Leuchie staff and volunteers really enjoyed being part of it. We can honestly say it’s the fundraising event with the most glitter and hairspray we’ve ever been involved in! The amateur dancers were incredible. To go from never having danced in public before, to performing so well in front of a huge audience after only 10 weeks, takes loads of hard work and commitment.    The fact that they’ve done all this to raise money for Leuchie, to help us to keep delivering respite breaks, is really special and we are very grateful to them, to all their professional partners, the amazing Bett Morrison and all the many other people who were involved in making it such a huge success. Thank you all from everyone at Leuchie House.”