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Friday, 31 October 2014

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My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding TV star Paddy Doherty helps Barrow dancers

FORMER bare-knuckle boxer turned reality TV star Paddy Doherty put his new-found fame to good use when he travelled to Barrow to raise money for a dance troupe.

The 53-year-old, who was once dubbed one of Britain’s deadliest men, showed his softer side at The Nines to raise funds for the Islanders dance troupe.

Despite insisting his fighting days are behind him, Mr Doherty briefly came out of retirement to climb into an inflatable ring – provided by Funtastic Entertainment – for some rounds of “bouncy boxing” with anyone brave enough to pay their £2.50 and shape up to him.

The visit came about through a chance meeting between Mr Doherty and Islander principal Joanne Leach at a Manchester cafe earlier this year.

Mrs Leach told Mr Doherty about the troupe she founded back in 1996 when she was just 15 and how it was a constant battle to scrape together enough money to keep taking the dancers to competitions.

Touched by her story, the 2011 Celebrity Big Brother winner and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star promised to come to Barrow and help the troupe.

“The honour’s mine to be here,” he said. “Jo’s a fantastic lady and it’s for charity and I love doing things for charity.

“I told her when we met in Manchester that any time she wanted me I’d be here. It’s good to put a smile on people’s faces.”

Mrs Leach teaches more than 70 dancers, ranging from toddlers to adults, and last year her troupe were crowned UK champions.

She said Mr Doherty’s visit would help raise much-needed funds to ferry her students and their supporters to competitions around the country.

“Everyone – but especially the younger ones – are absolutely ecstatic to see him,” she said.

“We’re always looking for donations and this will be an enormous help.”

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