A close friend of a Newtownabbey man with Parkinson’s disease has organised a charity event to raise funds and awareness about the illness.
Tracy McAllister has arranged a ‘Strictly’ night after her eldest son’s Godfather, Niall Barton, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2016.
The charity effort, which will take place in the Belfast Loughshore Hotel on November 17, will raise money for Parkinson’s UK.
Following Niall’s diagnoses, his daughter Becky, who had been travelling, cut her trip short and returned home to kick-start a fundraising campaign in a bid to help find a cure for her dad and other Parkinson’s sufferers.
Over the past two years, the group of friends known as ‘Team Barton,’ have held many fundraising events including scooter runs, bag packs, coffee mornings and marathon, raising over £20,000 for Parkinson’s UK.
Detailing her inspiration to hold the dancing spectacle, Tracy said: “I felt I needed to do more as I wasn’t involved in any of the marathons. I’ve always had a love of dance and absolutely adore Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve no Latin or Ballroom dancing experience, but I did do a spot of Disco dancing in my youth if that counts!
“After doing a bit of research and many months of planning, I decided to hold my own Strictly Come Dancing charity event in aid of Parkinson’s UK.”
She added: “Most of the 24 dancers have little or no dance experience, but have embraced the challenge of learning to dance.
“Dance company, ‘Ballroom Blitz’ are responsible for producing the show. Debbie and Michelle have incredible patience with all of the dancers. We train once a week in the Cottonmount Arms in Mallusk and the managers of the bar have been so accommodating.
“All of the dancers are working very hard. The support for the event is phenomenal. I’m blown away by the amount of tickets we’ve sold to date. We’ve almost the ballroom filled to capacity.”