Strictly Come Dancing stars JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden are to salute a 91-year-old widow with dementia who is fundraising for the Help for Heroes charity.
Last year, Irene Slavinski, from Cheadle Hulme, Greater Manchester, donned a tutu and performed the Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker online, which raised monies for Dementia UK.
Now she has turned her attention to helping the military charity in honour of her late husband Peter, who was a sergeant in the Royal Artillery and the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Mrs Slavinski has taken to YouTube again to dance to Christina Aguilera’s Candyman in her tutu and also sports her husband’s military medals.
She learned how to do a military salute as part of the dance and the move will be incorporated by Dowden and Chalmers in a series of live online dance classes they are hosting for Help for Heroes.
Professional dancer Dowden, who partnered Chalmers on Strictly in 2020, said: “JJ and I have loved watching Irene’s dancing. She is an absolute inspiration and she demonstrates so well the massive benefits that dance brings to mental and physical health.
“I hope she will inspire many others to experience what dancing can do for them by joining us.”
Mrs Slavinski’s daughter Jeanette said her parents were regular visitors to the ballroom at Manchester’s Belle Vue leisure centre for its big band nights and won a host of dancing trophies and certificates.
She said her mother battled sepsis at the beginning of 2020 and was then diagnosed with dementia just before the first lockdown.
Jeanette added: “It’s been hard throughout the lockdowns as mum is much happier when she’s busy but there hasn’t been much to do.
“As a poet, I know the importance of creativity in keeping people active in mind and body. So we’ve read poetry, baked cakes and, above all, we’ve danced. We dance every single day.”
They will join in with the Strictly quarter-finalists’ Help for Heroes dance lessons at 6pm on Wednesday March 31 and Wednesday April 7.
The classes are open to anyone, with adaptive moves for people in wheelchairs and with other forms of disability.
They will be broadcast live on the charity’s @HelpforHeroes Instagram account and will be shared later on its Facebook page.
Details on how to donate to Mrs Slavinski’s Help for Heroes dancing fundraiser can be found at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/IreneSlavinski