Celebrity skater Dan Whiston will take a break from Dancing On Ice rehearsals this Christmas to say ‘thank you’ to his home town for supporting his career.
The Blackpool-born ice dancer has been busy training celebrity partner Cheryl Baker for the return of the show in the new year.
But for now, he’s taking a break from the ice and is home for Christmas and is taking an opportunity to team up with local charities through his businesses in the town.
Dan, with business partners Anne and Ben Wade, owns the Subway sandwich store at Talbot Gateway, and Clip n Climb activity centre at Whitehills Business Park.
On Sunday, Dan, Anne and Ben helped host homelessness charity Streetlife’s Christmas party, providing sandwiches for people at the day centre in Buchanan Street.
And on Thursday, Dan will welcome families from Blackpool Coastal Housing to Clip n Climb for a free party day, including climbing sessions, food and drink.
Dan said: “I do a job I love, I’ve worked really hard and am in a great position.
“We have businesses in Blackpool which are doing well, so it’s important for me to be able to give back.”
Streetlife chief executive Jane Hugo said Sunday’s party had been supported by various local firms, including Beaverbrooks and Slater Gordon Solutions.
“It’s brilliant to have this support, and exciting to have Dan involved,” she said. “We have this party every year, to try to make Christmas that little bit special for young people who otherwise may not have anyone to celebrate with.”
Dan came to fame in 2006 when he signed up as one of the professional skaters on ITV show Dancing On Ice.
He soon became a viewers’ favourite and won the first series partnering actress Gaynor Faye.
He won another two series, with celebrity partners Blackpool actess Hayley Tamaddon and Olympic gymnast Bath Tweddle, and is Dancing On Ice’s most successful professional skater, with three victories under his blades during the show’s original run, which ended in 2014.
Since then, Dan’s invested in the fast food and climbing businesses, keen to stay close to his family and friends.
“Blackpool has been such a support to me since Dancing On Ice began,” the 41-year-old said.
“The show totally changed my life and has given me opportunities I never would have dreamed of.
“I go for my big shop and people stop me to chat. What I love about Blackpool is people put their arm round you.
“But it’s also set me up for life. Instead of going and splashing out, I invested every pound I made from my TV career and invested locally.
“I have a huge amount of staff and the responsibility which goes with that, but it’s lovely to think I’ve been able to make a bit of a difference because of the opportunities I had.”