Dancers raise thousands

Winners Anna Pembery and James Gulliford.  Picture: Christopher Reed
Winners Anna Pembery and James Gulliford. Picture: Christopher Reed
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STUDENTS and staff strutted, sashayed and swirled their way around the dance floor to raise more than £4,500 towards a school they helped establish in poverty-stricken Cambodia.

Nineteen brave pairs hit the dance floor for Portsmouth Grammar School’s Come Dancing 2012 competition in aid of a school in the northern village of Chai Tom which is attended by children travelling miles each day from neighbouring villages.

Anna Pembery and James Gulliford, both 17, were overall winners with an jaw-dropping cha-cha and a tantalising tango. Ben Charles, PGS deputy head, and his dance partner school administrator Karen Walsh, who recently completed her first triathlon, came top among the staff.

Ben says: ‘It was a fabulous experience and Karen and I were proud to take part in such a fabulous event which raised so much money for a wonderful cause.

‘It was a fantastic competition and we had a great time perfecting our routines.’

The competitors had been put through their paces over several weeks before the grand finale by former ballroom champions James and Kelly Prouton, who run Dizzyfeet Dancing in Fareham.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges including the Proutons, teacher Lisa Rickard and Chris Howarth, founder of the charity United World Schools (UWS), in combination with audience votes which cost £1 each.

All the money will now be spent on a much-needed water well and an extra classroom at the school that PGS set up and maintains in partnership with UWS.

Two years ago, the 2010 Come Dancing tournament raised the final amount needed to finish the school by paying for the roof.

David Doyle, competition master of the ceremonies, said: ‘The quality of the dances was of a very high standard and it was obvious how much effort the couples had put into the event, the climax of weeks of hard work and practice.

‘It is not easy to appear in front of an audience of peers and family and family and remain elegant and poised, let alone perform and be judged!’

He added: ‘I must also thank James and Kelly Prouton for guiding us through the dances.

‘We simply could not have put together this very worthwhile event without them and their patience and enthusiasm has been outstanding.