A man who danced himself back to health after suffering a stroke is one half of a duo who will be teaching fancy footwork to brave volunteers who will soon be stepping out in aid of the Hospice of St Francis.
Dance teachers Brian and Shirley Cusworth give their time for free to teach fundraisers who sign up to the charity’s annual Strictly Learn Dancing competition.
In the New Year they will embark on teaching a fresh batch of wannabe dancers hoping to wow judges with their quickstep and rumba on stage in front of hundreds in February.
Boxmoor osteopath Brian, who has been dancing since he was 19 years old, and fitness instructor Shirley dedicate their time to the good cause because they love to share their passion for dance with others.
They have been teaching in community halls and churches since August 2006 and started helping out on the Strictly project when it was launched by the hospice in 2010.
Shirley, 44, said: “We both love dancing so it is nice to be able to give people a hobby or something that a couple can do together.”
The Hospice of St Francis is now recruiting twinkle-toed twosomes for the 2013 Strictly Learn Dancing event.
And if you’re reluctant to put yourself forward, take Brian’s tip: “Just do it.
“In my case it was a little interest that started at the age of 19 and has become a life-long thing.”
Shirley added: “It’s fun, it’s for charity, there are no losers but you might just happen to learn a new skill.”
Dancing was a key part of what helped Brian, 54, get back on his feet following a stroke in 2008.
“We danced from about the fourth week to try and get my leg working again,” he said.
Shirley, who is also a deep tissue and aromatherapy massage therapist, said: “I think because of our own backgrounds we were able to help him a lot more.
“Every single day I was massaging his arm and leg, stretching his fingers and toes and doing exercises with him.
“We were in a good position because of our knowledge.
“On the weekend before they would let him out we were in one of the wards doing waltz and rumba steps.”
The stroke affected Brian’s entire left side and he spent two weeks in Hemel Hempstead Hospital, followed by six weeks at a specialist rehabilitation centre at St Albans Hospital.
His recovery continues even today and his latest achievement has been to recently start running again on a treadmill.
The couple, who married in September 2008, also do dance work with those who have suffered strokes, have multiple sclerosis or sporting injuries.
“Some can dance better than they can walk,” said Shirley.
Speaking of Brian’s stroke, she said: “Even though it was a very stressful time, it has made me realise how the brain can mend and learn all over again.
“When people get told that they can’t get any better – that is nonsense.”
>Strictly fundraisers will train over a six week period, starting on Wednesday, January 16, at Hemel Hempstead’s Sportspace, before taking to the stage in a grand finale in Berkhamsted on Saturday, February 23.
To add to the glitz and glamour dancers will be transformed by Gorgeous Hair and Gorgeous Beauty.
If you’re tempted by the challenge, you can find out more at www.stfrancis.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
>Brian and Shirley run dance classes and pilates sessions at venues around Hemel Hempstead. To find out more call 01442 255610, 07730 591786 or visit www.bailacusworthdanceschools.com