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Inspirational Cheryl leaves the ice

By Liz Nicholls

Honorary patron of the KM Charity Team, Cheryl Baker says she “had a ball” on Dancing on Ice – and has adopted her dancing partner Dan Whiston into her family.

Cheryl Baker with pupils from West Borough Primary School, Maidstone, after Willow Class won a story time with the star in a competition run by the KM Charity Team.
Cheryl Baker with pupils from West Borough Primary School, Maidstone, after Willow Class won a story time with the star in a competition run by the KM Charity Team.

The former Bucks Fizz singer and Eurovision Song Contest winner left the show after losing the public vote to Donna Air and Mark Hanretty on Sunday.

But even controversial judge Jason Gardiner said he had been impressed by her performance – and Dan, 41, called her an “inspiration”.

“I had an absolute ball. It’s been like a big family, and I was so lucky I had Dan,” the 63-year-old told ITV’s Loose Women show on Monday. “I never gave my age a consideration. I was the same as everyone else - I was learning to skate.”

She added: “I remember my mum saying when she was in her 80s, ‘In my head I feel 19,’ and that’s me. I think age is immaterial.”

Cheryl, who lives near Maidstone, is an active supporter and honorary patron of the KM Charity Team, including their Young Cooks competition for children, which is now open for entries at www.youngcooks.org.uk.

She visited West Borough Primary School in Maidstone to read a story to pupils as part of the Buster’s Book Club literacy scheme and has also helped to compere the KM Big Charity Quiz.

Cheryl discussed how a bad fall early on in her training exacerbated her terror of hurting her back and made her afraid to let go of Dan’s hand, despite criticism from the judges.

The singer broke three vertebrae when Bucks Fizz were involved in a near-fatal coach crash in 1984.

“Dancing on Ice is dangerous - I didn’t anticipate the danger when they said would you like to do it, I just said yes,” she laughed. “I fell on my back in training, before I was dancing with Dan, and then I thought, I’m not letting go ever again because I don’t feel safe. And I never did!”

She described Dan, who has moved in to her home, as “the new family member”.

“My husband loves him, my kids love him - he’s like a new puppy,” she said. “He’s a friend for life.”

Dan said he had had “so much fun” dancing with Cheryl and had seen her confidence grow during the show.

“Her first words to me were, ‘I’m sorry you’ve got me, Dan,’ and my heart broke. I thought, what do you mean - you’re fantastic!” he said. “She never talked about the coach crash or about having back problems, although if she had had a fall it could have been quite serious. But she was so brave and did so well - I’m so proud.”

He added: “She is such an inspiration to a lot of people. We have a lovely time together - we have a cheeseboard every Monday and a drop of wine.”

Cheryl will now be appearing in the Dancing on Ice tour, which starts on March 23 at Wembley Arena. The Fizz, as the members of Bucks Fizz who still perform together are known, will also be releasing a new single, Up For The Fight, on February 16.

She will also be encouraging young wannabe pop stars by backing the KM Charity Team’s Walk to School Song Contest, which is now open for entries from schools at www.kmcharityteam.co.uk/songcontest.

This year’s song is ‘Reach’ by S Club 7 and groups of schoolchildren will be encouraged to rewrite and record the song to promote the benefits of exercise and fresh air. The finalists will get to perform their entries in the summer at a professional recording studio – just like Cheryl, who is now set to record new songs with The Fizz.

“We’re going into the studio to do a new album with Mike Stock, which is amazing,” she said. “Not being in Dancing on Ice gives me a bit of time to go into the studio.”

Three of the KM Big Charity Quiz heats - in Medway, Canterbury, and Ashford - are now open for booking at www.kmcharityteam.co.uk/booking. Don’t forget to use the discount code KMNEWS18.

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