Annual air ambulance fundraiser a Strictly success

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance’s (EHAAT) popular fundraiser Strictly Air Ambulance was back for its 12th year on Saturday March 9, returning to the Brentwood Centre.

Five local charity supporters and their dance professional partners competed to win the glitterball trophy.

Presiding over the ballroom and Latin routines were a panel of judges including BBC Strictly Come Dancing regulars Nadiya Bychkova and Kai Widdrington, along with EHAAT CEO Jane Gurney, pro Latin dancer Ben Milan-Vega and head judge Phil Meacham of Chelmsford Dance Centre.

Sponsored by Birkett Long Solicitors and Rig Equipment Ltd, the show saw the couples each perform elaborate, and vibrant ballroom and Latin routines, cheered on by an 800-strong audience. Nadiya and Kai also took to the floor wowing the crowd with two show-stopping performances.

Winners Sarah Ridge and Hayden Wise

The couples under the judges’ scrutiny on the night – Laura Bannister from South Woodham Ferrers, Kerrie Barker from Colchester, Steve Drew from Rochford, Sarah Ridge from Leigh-on-Sea and Richard Willis from Billericay twirled and glided across the dancefloor with their professional partners to raise vital funds for their charity.

For the second year running, TV and radio presenter, and EHAAT Celebrity Ambassador Lisa Snowdon brought extra sparkle to the show, co-hosting with ITV presenter David Whiteley.

After a close contest with a very high-level of dancing from all couples, Sarah and her partner Hayden Wise eventually won the judges’ votes and the title of Strictly Air Ambulance Champions 2024.

Sarah, who is the founder of the Sisterhood Networking Group, stepped up to dance with open amateur competitor Hayden after his original partner dropped out six weeks before the competition.

Sarah said: “It’s always been my dream to do Strictly, and so to have won tonight – I’m over the moon!”

Tickets for Strictly Air Ambulance 2025, taking place on Saturday March 15, are now on sale at www.ehaat.org/strictly and for a limited time only are available at an early-bird discounted rate.