Cancer charities benefit from Strictly’s tune of 100k

November 10, 2014

Two very deserving cancer charities are set to benefit from a whopping £103,624.39 raised in the hugely successful Skip Car Tour’s Strictly Come Dancing fundraiser held in Newry’s Canal Court on Friday night.

The massive total, which will be donated to Southern Area Hospice Services and Marie Curie Cancer Care, was generated from eight months of fundraising efforts by participants in the dancing extravaganza who worked tirelessly since the launch of the event in February.

Irene Reel from Dorsey, who competed on behalf of her employer Gerard McMonagle, Superbites in Crossmaglen, was crowned overall fundraising winner on the night alongside her dance partner, Gerard McCall, after they raised over £18,000 between them through their individual fundraising efforts.

The accolade is a fitting tribute to Irene who pulled out all the stops organizing a string of fundraisers including raffles, a tea party and culminating in the recent Festival of Lights Truck Run in Crossmaglen, which raised over £3,000 alone.

Thanking Irene for efforts, Superbites’ owner, Gerard McMonagle, said she was a fantastic representative and he paid tribute to her and his staff “for their commitment and dedication as a winning team throughout the year”.

“Superbites is delighted to be a part of this great initiative to raise funds for two very worthy charities and I’d like to thank everyone who helped out in all our events, those who donated raffle prizes and the stewards on the night of the truck run,” he said.

“A special thanks to everyone who donated money to Irene’s fundraisers which all helped to raise the amazing amount of £12,012.  And a special mention to the man behind Strictly Come Dancing, Sean McArdle, and his team whose hard work has raised more than £100,000 for two very worthy cancer charities,” he added.

Speaking to The Examiner following the overwhelming success of Friday night’s Strictly Come Dancing fundraiser, organizer Sean McArdle said he was “still buzzing” from the previous night’s triumph and commended everyone who took part and worked so hard throughout the year to raise such a fantastic amount.

Sean, who founded the Skip Car Tour charitable organisation four years ago, revealed that Strictly’s success has topped total fundraising amounts for all previous years.

The idea for the Strictly Come Dancing fundraiser came about after the Skip Car Tour committee decided to do something different this year.

As Sean explained: “Cancer has no barriers so we wanted to do something that involved both sides of the community and after approaching and meeting with people from all different walks of life, we ended up with ten dancing couples at the launch in February.”

As he congratulated Irene and George for becoming the fundraising winners on Friday night, he also commended the dancing winners, Connor McVeigh and Kerrie Gass and said it was very apt that the winners on the night included a couple from each side of the community.

“Irene and George were absolute worthy, worthy winners,” he said.  “The exceptional support they received from friends and family and all of Crossmaglen was amazing. It has to be said that the rest of our fundraising teams were also fantastic ambassadors for the Skip Car Tour.  They were all stars who had to fit in family life, committee meetings, fundraising and months of dance practice to raise this unprecedented amount of money.

“The standard of dancing on the night was exceptional and would put any professional to shame.  The judges had an extremely difficult job in trying to choose a winner and in the end there was only one mark in it.”

Sean thanked judges Raymond Donnelly, Sharon Haughey, Belinda Nesbitt and Ciaran McGeeney for an “outstanding job” and also extended his gratitude to choreographer Lisa Cassidy for her tireless work in helping the dancers achieve such a high standard of dancing in just 12 weeks.

Keen to highlight the work of all involved, Sean said, “Without the support of people and businesses who sponsor us we would not have been able to put on this show.  The generosity of the community has been fantastic and they all should be commended for continuing to donate again and again over such a long campaign.

“We also have to thank Armagh Rugby Club and Granemore GAA Club for allowing us to use their premises for dance practice, and Peter Carr whose previous experience in running a Strictly campaign proved invaluable.

“Personally I need to thank the organising committee and all the help we’ve had in getting this off the ground.  It’s been phenomenal and they are a great bunch of people.  All the hard work and commitment has paid off, and more.  As the total was announced to over 1200 people in the Canal Court, the atmosphere was just electric.  Hospice representatives were in tears at the scale of the generosity and it is a fitting testament to all involved that the night was such an overwhelming success,” he added.

A DVD of the night will be launched in coming weeks with all proceeds going to Southern Area Hospice Services and Marie Curie Cancer Care.