Dancing duo step out for dementia

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Scores of people took to Blackpool’s world famous dance floor to show how dementia won’t get in the way of a happy past time.

Among them were Strictly Come Dancing stars Robin Windsor and Kristina Rihanoff, who put on a stunning performance and spoke to guests at a Dancing with Dementia event at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Blackpool Town Hall.

Blackpool Town Hall.

The ballroom was given over to Blackpool Council yesterday for the free event, which featured stalls on dementia awareness as well as memory testing and photographs of Blackpool over the years.

The room was packed with people with the disease, carers and health professionals.

Speaking ahead of his dazzling performance, Robin said his reasons for attending were personal as well as professional.

“My grandmother suffers from dementia quite heavily,” he said.

“She is quite happy with it as she doesn’t know what’s going on, but it’s hard for the family when we’ve known her all our lives but she can’t remember us any more.

“When we were asked to attend today it was an opportunity for me to take part in something that’s so close to home. Thousands and thousands of people across the country suffer with this and I’ll do anything I can to help.”

Evidence suggests dance can ward off dementia by stimulating the mind, encouraging social interaction, boosting confidence, providing exercise and reducing symptoms of anxiety.

Vera and David Gabbitas, of Blackpool, said they wanted to attend to get more information about dementia as a relative had been diagnosed with the disease.

Vera, 79, said: “It’s been a lovely afternoon, and very helpful.”

Irene McMullen, 67, attended with her husband Steve, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease nearly 18 months ago.

She said: “It’s nice to be able to go somewhere, relax and talk to other people who understand what you’re going through because they’re in the same position.”

Robin, who wowed audiences over four series of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, said he was pleased to be returning to Blackpool.

He said: “Blackpool is the hub for British ballroom dancing and is probably the best ballroom hall in the world.”

Emily Grundy, public health practitioner for Blackpool, said the afternoon was about encouraging motivation and enjoyment.

“We are delighted with the turn out and pleased to see so many people up and dancing,” she said.