CRICKETER Michael Vaughan found himself on a sticky wicket when he almost danced his way out of Strictly, writes Claire Lewis.
But he gained hundreds of extra fans to help keep him in the TV show when he visited Sheffield High School in his home city with his professional dance partner Natalie Lowe.
The pair, competing in the BBC’s latest series of Strictly Come Dancing, attended an assembly where they accepted a cheque for £12,000 on behalf of the charity CRY – Cardiac Risk in the Young.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch Nik Brear’s video report.
The cash was raised in memory of pupil Alex Reid, of Thorpe Salvin, Rotherham, who died in her sleep at the age of 16 from an undiagnosed heart condition.
A memorial event was held at Alex’s school following her sudden death last June, where friends, family and teachers raised cash during a special celebration of her life.
Alex’s proud parents Heather, 51, and dad John, 52, with their younger daughter Jenn, 15, handed over the cheque to Michael, who knew Alex.
The cash will be used to pay for the screening of young adults and to fund support services offered by the charity.
Heather said it was apt that Michael, who has raised money for CRY himself, accepted the cash because Alex loved dancing.
“She loved her life, she had a great time - she was very vibrant, very compassionate and everybody loved her,” said Heather.
“She was very sporty - playing netball and swimming to a high level - and she loved dancing too, so she would love all this.”
Alex’s dad, a GP in Kiveton Park, said: “Alex was a very talented sportswoman – whether it was netball, swimming, downhill skiing, so she was very fit and athletic. There were no signs at all that anything was wrong with her heart.
“We are supporting CRY to raise awareness that 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions every week.”
During their visit to Alex’s school, Michael and Natalie spent time answering questions from pupils, where it was revealed that the next dance the pair will perform on the hit TV show is the cha-cha-cha to the theme tune of the Full Monty.
As a thank you for visiting the school, Michael was presented with a hanging basket – after Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli said his ‘backside’ resembled one during his jive last Saturday, which failed to impress judges.
Both he and Natalie burst into hysterics when the gift was handed over, before Michael posed for photographs with the pupils.
He revealed he spends eight hours a day practising his dances.
“With the standard of my jive last week you may not realise this but I put eight hours a day in last week – Natalie is working me very hard,” he said.
Michael, of Baslow, said he won’t be ‘waltzing down the streets of Sheffield’ for the rest of his life after the show but was enjoying taking part in the show.
“It’s a dance show but it’s more than that, its an entertainment show and I hope I will be able to entertain some more after Saturday.”
Michael also revealed that if he is still on the show over the Halloween weekend he will be dancing a tango.