Bravehearts dancers get ready to rumba!

Shauna Loughran


Shauna Loughran

TICKETS have been flying off the shelves for the Bravehearts NI 'Strictly Ballymena’ dance event to be held on October 19, 2019 at Tullyglass House Hotel.

At the time of going to print over 600 tickets had already been sold, with a lot more anticipated to be sold as the full line-up of dancers is unveiled.

Most of you will recognise some familiar faces in the line-up and it is hoped the event will bring Ballymena together with a collaboration of local clubs, societies and businesses.

And already, some big names have been signed up to judge the event.

Ballymena United Football Club Manager, David Jeffrey, will be turning his attention from fancy footwork on the pitch to twinkle toes on the dancefloor.

Also on the judging panel is veteran television presenter Jackie Fullerton, Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Beth Adger, as well as actress Alison (Alexandra) Ford from Give My Head Peace.

This is the first dance event hosted by the local charity which aims to raise both awareness and funds to help them carry out their vital work.

The charity was established in 2013, following Shealyn Caulfield's battle with severe Congenital Heart disease (CHD). Born with the condition, Shealyn was admitted to the Royal Victoria hospital (RVH) at aged 14 with heart failure once again.

Shealyn was to reside at the adult ward instead of the Children’s Heart Unit and there was nothing to support her stay as a young teenager in the adult cardiac ward.

The family waited with Shealyn for 11 hours for a bed in the cardiac department and the only one available was in with five elderly men.

The recently established Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) team in the RVH had no additional support and therefore through necessity, Shealyn and her mother Clare founded BraveheartsNI.

The family have worked tirelessly to organise events and raise funds for the charity and this upcoming event will be one of the most ambitious to date!

Strictly Ballymena will be hosted in association with Ballroom Blitz NI. The event will be cross community event with dancers being paired from more than 20 clubs within the Ballymena area.

Dancers will be taught by a professional dancers two hours per week for six weeks and training kicked off on Tuesday, August 20.

BraveheartsNI will receive 50% of the fundraising events while each club is free to do as they wish with their remaining 50% - be it to develop their club, donate to BraveheartsNI or even to donate to another charity.

This promises to be a fun filled night and will reveal who really is the King or Queen of the dancefloor!

Clare Caulfield told the Guardian: "Our Bravehearts have broken down isolation by encouraging their fellow CHD friends to get involved through volunteering, befriend others during their long hospital stays and generally being there when things are often too difficult.

"We are desperate for fundraising events and simply getting our name out there to encourage Bravehearts and their families to get in touch to enable us to help wherever it’s needed – financially, pastorally and increasingly with mental health support.We need to spread the word to families like us out there.

“We are always seeking new companies to consider us as their charity of the year.

"My daughter Shealyn is now 20 and after her third heart surgery in 2013, where they transplanted mechanical valves into her heart she is now awaiting a heart transplant.

Bravehearts NI is her passion and she is determined to provide the help and support to others like her, especially for those who haven’t the family support that our Bravehearts rely on."

Strictly Ballymena is running in association with BallroomBlitz sponsored by Harry Dunlop Refrigeration and Unite the Union Ballymena branch.

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