“You’ll never guess what I’ve just signed you up for”. That was how I first heard I’d been volunteered to take part in the Strictly Seashell Ball by my wonderful buck-passing husband. Don’t get me wrong, I’m up for most physical challenges. Over the years I’ve done my fair share of walking, running and cycling for various good causes, but this one takes ‘physical challenge” to a whole other level. Crucially, I have to engage brain and body simultaneously.


At the Rolls Royce garage in Wilmslow on 28th April, I will be performing a tango in front of 300 people and four professional judges. My professional dance partner, Keith, and I will be critiqued and scored by the judging panel and the audience.

Ultimate have been associated with the Seashell Trust for a number of years and have formed a very close and meaningful bond with the charity and its incredible team. Our founder and my husband, Matt Townsend, is involved with the fundraising team and Ultimate support the charity in anyway we can.

From a starting point of zero dance experience, I now have four weeks in which to co-ordinate feet, arms, head, legs, back and fingers – all the while sucking in my cheeks to ensure when my head whips around, I “don’t look too jowly darling”.


The Adventure Begins!

I met my dance partner Keith at The Ray Bullpit School of Dance in Wilmslow in early March. Keith and his lovely wife Beryl, together with our teacher and choreographer Ray, have since told me that when I rocked up in my Nikes on day one, without dance shoes, they thought “OMG, what have we got here”. Thankfully, I soon got rid of the offending trainers, replacing them with a suitable dancing heel and the relationship has been on the up ever since. They are the most encouraging, kind and patient bunch of people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I’ve had six hours training so far and each hour that passes goes by far too quickly. I’m just absolutely loving it! 

Learning to dance the tango is an utter dream. I can completely understand why those who take part in the real Strictly Come Dancing rave so much about never giving dance up. I feel exactly the same. This is something I will certainly pursue after the event.

Ray and Keith quickly worked out that the best way of getting me to remember steps is laughter, which they manage with ease. They like to find references from way back when, most of which completely pass me by. I mean who under 40 (yes I just pass for that thank you!) would understand the reference “bender zee knee”? To The Manor Born apparently! Well, this step is now rooted in my brain so at least that’s one I’ve got a good chance of getting right on the big night.

This is a video snippet from my first ever lesson. At the time I didn’t even know that this was considered slow. In actual fact, the dance was just being “stepped out”. I was completely thrown in lesson three when I was informed that we would now be dancing it “at the correct tempo”. However, it’s great looking back now to see just how much I’ve improved.




Who Are The Seashell Trust?

The Seashell Trust’s heritage goes back to 1823 when a group of prominent entrepreneurs founded the Manchester Children’s Deaf School. To this day the charity’s association with some of the North West’s most prominent businesses and entrepreneurial communities remains at its heart.

From those ground-breaking days back in 1823, the Seashell Trust has now grown into the country’s leading school, college and residential care home for children and young adults with complex learning disabilities and additional communication needs. The charity continues to push boundaries and allow the children and young people in their care to lead safe and happy lives, helping them to achieve the best possible outcomes. The Seashell Trust helps them to feel like valued and valuable members of their communities. 

If you would like to make a donation to The Seashell Trust in aid of this event, please click here: https://bit.ly/2FX4025 

Thank you!




Written by Amy Townsend April of 2018