Philip Friel, cosmetic and implant dentist

THE Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice runs an annual event called (A Little Less) Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve attended a few. For the next one, on March 10, I thought I was being asked to take a table, but it quickly transpired that I was being asked to actually take part in the dancing. I’m happy to do it and thought it would be a bit of fun. But I have never danced before, ever.

It starts with a meeting with the dance professional, whom you’ve never met before, and you discuss the event, and what you want to do in terms of music and dance. Once you get over that initial apprehension, the slight strangeness, it has been going well so far. Kerry Montgomery is my dance coach and we’re doing two or three mornings per week. We train between 6.30am and 8am, so it’s obviously a fair commitment – I have four children, so I’m not doing the school run these days as often as I used to. But everyone has been lending a hand.

Loading article content

So far the training has been relatively straightforward, because I’m just getting the routine in my head. We’re doing two or three lifts during the performance and we’ve been practising them – it helps that Kerry has a slight build. But when there’s momentum involved and positioning from one place to another, that sort of co-ordination can be quite taxing. Kerry is a good teacher, though. She’d have to be, to teach me. I’m one of those individuals who thinks he can do most things. Dancing, for example: I thought I would be OK at that, but I find myself being asked to follow simple instructions involving, say, my right arm and right leg moving, but all of a sudden my left hand will move. Or I’ll decide to do something, and jump into it. But Kerry is extremely patient and she has done wonders for my confidence, from being a complete non-dancer to being able to work through the routine.

It helps that I am fit: I play a fair amount of football and do some running and cycling. That was one of the strange things about this. When I think about what I do for a living it’s all about fine control, control in potentially stressful environments, but dancing is totally different. It’s still about fine control, but fine control of the whole body. It has been quite challenging, but very enjoyable.

For the actual rumba routine, Kerry has devised the choreography and has also selected a song which happens to be about a woman who is dealing with cancer. It has been interesting from that point of view, as some of the motions and movements give a sense, even if just on a dance floor, of the ups and downs, and mixed emotions, involved in the illness.

As far as I’m aware there will be 800 people at the Hilton Glasgow event. Once we get the routine nailed down, Kerry is planning maybe a couple of smaller public tests prior to the big event. I have experience of lecturing in front of large audiences, but that’s on a pre-rehearsed lecture on a subject I’m knowledgeable in, but the dance event will be different. It’s not of course about me or any of the other seven volunteer dancers including [hair stylist] Taylor Ferguson. It's about the hospice. I’m perfectly prepared for people to have a laugh at my expense so long as they don’t mind contributing to the cause. The hospice wants us to raise at least £3,000 but the more we raise the better, but if I was to get closer to £5,000 or £6,000 that would be fantastic.

Russell Leadbetter