Champions do the Cha Cha for @MacmillanCancer : Saturday 24th May in the Millbrook Lodge

Roisin Fitzsimons and Maria Hamill watch on as Strictly Come Dancing wannabes Patrick Smyth and Paula Thompson have a practice for the ‘champion of champions’
Roisin Fitzsimons and Maria Hamill watch on as Strictly Come Dancing wannabes Patrick Smyth and Paula Thompson have a practice for the ‘champion of champions’

StrictChampions do the Cha Cha for Macmillanly Come Dancing wannabes have been taking part in dancing competitions hosted by numerous local clubs across Northern Ireland in a bid to raise vital funds for a leading cancer charity.

A local group of fundraisers are hoping to cash in on the popularity of the series in a major drive for Macmillan Cancer Care by hosting a ‘Champion of Champions’ event at the Millbrook Lodge Hotel in Ballynahinch later this month.

They event will draw the winners and runners-up from previous strictly events held in individual clubs over the past few months onto the floor for where the ten couples will take part in a dance-off that will hopefully raise thousands of pounds for Macmillan.

Behind the event is a dedicated team of fundraisers, Roisin Fitzsimons, Emmanuel McStravick, Maureen Brennan led by Maria Hamill, a cancer survivor who spearheaded the fundraising idea after she was diagnosed with non Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of 44.

Maria suddenly became ill while on a business trip in 2010 and after undergoing six months of gruelling chemotherapy, she was finally in remission from the disease. Three years later, Maria is enjoying good health and said Macmillan Cancer Care was particularly instrumental in helping her to readjust to a life post-cancer by helping her negotiate the emotional minefield that the diagnosis created.

She said: “Macmillan was invaluable to me.  After my treatment ended they ran a course called New Perspectives to help me deal with coming back to reality. What I’ve discovered is that you are always changed by this. Every single day you will be glad you are alive.  I now live by the saying ‘every day is a gift, that is why it is called the present.’”

The Champion of Champions event will take place on Saturday 24th May and will see ten couples battle it out for the champion crown.  They will be marked by a glamorous team of judges including model and journalist Nuala Meenehan, model and actress Gemma Garrett, BBC make up artist Maria Moore and dance academy principal Thomas Hawkes.

All funds raised will go to Macmillan Cancer Care and top prizes will be up for grabs on the night including Garth Brooks tickets, a night at the Burrendale Hotel, a spa day at the Slieve Donard Hotel, a one-hour make-up lesson with award winning make up artist Paddy McGurgan, a Clarins pamper pack from Gordon’s Chemist and a £150 voucher for Michael Quinn hairdressers.

The Champion of Champions Strictly dance off will take place on Saturday 24th May in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel, Ballynahinch.  Tickets are £15 and on sale now.  For further information go to

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