Belfast Telegraph

In Pictures: Our celebrities are struck by Strictly Come Dancing fever for hospital fundraiser

By Deborah McAleese

For two nights they cha cha-ed and tangoed their way across the ballroom bringing the magic of Strictly Come Dancing to Belfast.

Six local media stars, as we have never seen them before, battled it out in sequins and glitter for the first ever Royal Does Strictly to help raise funds for vital medical equipment at the Royal Belfast hospital For Sick Children.

It was the twinkle-toes of BBC NI’s Martina Purdy that stole the show during a preview evening at the Ramada Hotel on Friday with her dance partner Bill McCallion, a consultant paediatric surgeon, when they were voted the winners by the audience.

But the overall winners during a gala dinner at the Titanic Belfast on Saturday night were Dr Deirdre Peake, a consultant paediatric neurologist at the hospital, and her partner Freddie Kinnersley.

More than 1,000 people joined the dancers for two sell-out nights, raising over £100,000 to help with the purchase of an MRI scanner.

And the fund-raiser was boosted when Health Minister Edwin Poots announced his department is to provide £2.75m for the scanner.

It is hoped the hospital, currently the only children’s hospital in the UK and Ireland not to have an MRI scanner, will be able to purchase the equipment next year. The scanner diagnoses a wide range of conditions, including cancer.

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