Forres mum takes centre stage in Strictly Inverness for charities Highland Hospice and Inverness Ice Rink
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A FORRES businesswoman is stepping out of her comfort zone and onto the dance floor for a good cause.
Melissa Brailsford, who owns the Mosset Tavern in Forres with her husband Gordon is one of 32 contestants taking part in Strictly Inverness this May.
Melissa (43) is also a personal trainer and has credited her business and clients for inspiring her to take on the charity dance competition. She said: "A big part of my job is encouraging ladies to push themselves out of their comfort zone and try new things, so when Strictly came about I thought it was time to walk the talk and do something to push myself. It's great because I can raise some money for charity at the same time, so it’s a win win."
Melissa is currently in the process of an intensive 12 week dance training programme and is also hosting lots of fundraising events at the Mosset Tavern for Strictly's two charities Highland Hospice and the Inverness Ice Centre.
"The training is pretty intense," Melissa said, "but it's a pretty fantastic thing to be involved with."
Despite the challenges of training, Melissa has been enjoying the process, particularly in rediscovering her childhood love of dance and connection to her grandparents, who ran a dance school in Inverness. She said: "Pretty much from since I could walk I was doing majorettes and then later disco and ballroom dancing, but I stopped when I was about 13. It's always been something I wished I had kept up and I've had so much fun dancing again. Even the first night, I found myself grinning like the Cheshire Cat the whole time."
Melissa is currently travelling from Forres to Inverness three days a week to practice and will be performing three dances, a group dance, the Salsa and the Pasodoble. She has been lucky to have a supportive dance partner in Inverness based painter and decorator Scott Wilson, as well as support from her husband Gordon and two children Leo (14) and Frankie (11) who will be cheering her on from the sidelines.
She said: "My kids think it's great, they're really chuffed for me and Frankie is especially enjoying it. To know that they're behind me and taking an interest is really encouraging and I want to make them proud as well.
"I think like a lot of ladies, I worry sometimes about looking stupid or what people will think of me, so I think it's a good opportunity to throw that out the window and just go for it and really have fun. I just feel really grateful to be given the opportunity and I'm really enjoying the process so far."
Ahead of her dance debut, Melissa is hosting a series of fun, family fundraising events at the Mosset Tavern. The first, a family quiz night, will take place on Saturday, February 17. There will be also be a Rock n' Roll bingo night the following Saturday (February 24) followed by St. Patrick's Day and Easter celebrations on March 16 and March 29.
Melissa said: "If people would like to come along and support I'd be very grateful. The more money raised the more chance we have of getting into the final which would be just phenomenal and all the money goes to a good cause, my uncle spent some time in Highland Hospice before we lost him and it's a cause that is close to many peoples hearts. It's an incredible event with so much hard work going into it and an incredible charity to be raising money for."