Stars of Armidale Dance for Cancer

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As this year’s stars practice for the upcoming event, FOCUS talks with Paul Hobson, the organiser of the 2017 Stars of Armidale, Dance for Cancer.

Firstly, for those who don’t know about the event, can you tell us all about it?

STARS OF ARMIDALE – DANCE FOR CANCER is one of Cancer Council NSW’s flagship fundraising events, with local “stars” consisting of business owners and other notable members of the Armidale community dancing with some of the local and fabulously talented dance teachers.

All money raised from this event goes to support vital research projects, prevention programs, information, support and advocacy services. Cancer patients can be supported through local services, including transport, accommodation, financial, legal and counselling services, with proceeds also going towards the $15 million of research that Cancer Council funds each year to explore new treatments, earlier detection, better prevention programs. The accommodation facility known as Inala House, which is located near the North West Cancer Centre in Tamworth, provided over 300 free nights’ accommodation to patients from the Armidale region, in 2016/17, saving them over $20,000.

This year, Cancer Council NSW Stars of Armidale has a goal to fund a cancer patient transport service in Armidale, enabling local cancer patients free transport to travel to cancer appointments or treatment. Funds raised through Stars of Armidale 2017 will help support this project, to ensure this vital patient transport service is available for those in need in the Armidale community.

Is this a national event? How did it start?

The Stars Dance for Cancer concept started as a local fundraising initiative in the Coffs Harbour Regional Office of Cancer Council NSW back in 2011 and has now become part of over 20 separate communities across NSW. It has provided a good opportunity for local identities to step out of their comfort zones, bringing their communities together for the common cause to beat cancer.

How much has the event raised in the past? 

The Stars of Armidale event has raised around $80,000 from the past two events in 2013 and 2015, and this year we hope to raise between $40,000 – $50,000 to assist the local Armidale community.

Tell us about this year’s line up of stars.

This year’s Stars of Armidale event boasts a record line up of stars and dancers, including: Helen Goodall – Armidale Hospital Oncology; Mike Baker and Carmel Reilly – The Bubbling Pot; Matt Meehan – Agbis Finance; Holly Murphy – H M Fitness; Keith Ellis – Green Jelly Real Estate; James Coleman – The Armidale Express; Jenny Allingham – Armidale Town & Country Real Estate; Adam Ritchie – Two Drones Media; James Sheehan and Josh Smith – House with No Steps; Greg Davison – Oorala Aboriginal Centre UNE ; Imtias Anees – NEGS; Liam Kelleher – Two Goats Café & Baa; and Mitch Valentine – Duval High School.

Tell us about the dancers you have chosen to teach the stars.

This year’s stars will perform a variety of dance routines, with the stars being expertly guided under the tutorage of the local Armidale Dance Group, headed by Jenny Wild, who has also been one of the event coordinators since the event began in Armidale in 2013, and Melissa Killen from Little Fish Entertainment, who was herself the inaugural Stars of Armidale winner back in 2013. Also this year, due to the record number of participating local stars, we have  had to call upon Duval High dance teacher Caitlin Noonan and local UNE student Zara Read to assist in guiding our stars of 2017 on to the dancefloor.

There must be so much work involved? Tell us about the process, from choosing dancers to the actual event? 

The main challenge in staging a Stars of Armidale event is in the recruitment of the local business persons and professionals to pluck up the courage to dance in front of their friends, family and their local community.

The night will be a culmination of months of planning and promises to be a professionally staged gala event, with the assistance of the Armidale SerVies Club, IXL Productions and Macsound Electronics.

How can locals get involved?

The Armidale community can support the Stars of Armidale by purchasing tickets to the show on Saturday 16th September. You can also get behind the Stars of Armidale by supporting them in fundraising activities leading up the event, or follow them on the Stars of Armidale Dance for Cancer Facebook page. For further information or to make a donation to your favourite star, visit https://everydayhero.com.au/event/starsofarmidale2017.

Where and when will the event be held?

The event will be held at the Armidale SerVies Club on Saturday 16th September. Tickets are strictly available to persons 18 years or over at a cost of $70 per person and can be purchased by the general public from the SerVies Club from Tuesday 1st August 2017.

Ticket price includes dinner and entertainment, with drinks available for purchase on the night from the club. Doors open at 6:30pm, with the dance extravaganza commencing at 7pm sharp.

Any final words?

As the event is an 18 and over event, there will be a chance for under 18s to attend the full dress rehearsal on the Friday night before the show to watch their favourite star perform for a gold coin donation.

There will be winners announced on the night in three separate categories, including “judges’ choice”, “people’s choice” and “Highest Fundraiser”. The judges adjudicating on the dance routines for the “judges’ choice” award include local member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, and representatives from Armidale Can Assist and New England FOCUS. The people’s choice award will be decided by an SMS voting system on the night and cash donations to their favourite star, and the highest fundraiser award will be decided by the star who has raised the most money prior to the night.

Thanks Paul.

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