Published on: 20 June 2024


A few days after her big glitterball moment, Emma Rodrigues is still fizzing with excitement.

The occupational therapist came second in a national charity dance contest at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and was overwhelmed to find out she had scooped the prize for being the top fundraiser, with her total topping £7,000 and still growing!

Emma, from Hucknall, was one of just 12 people from across the UK to reach the final of Dance Floor Heroes, which raises money for Tia’s Crown, a charity set up to support mental and physical wellbeing through dance. 

“I was so nervous beforehand,” she said. “We travelled up the day before and I just felt really sick. I was so emotional, I think I cried for about three hours.

“I knew I wanted to do it but I never imagined what an emotional rollercoaster it would be.”

As part of the competition, 32-year-old Emma was given 12 hours of training with her professional partner Elliot Blant-Harwood and said that as soon as she got on to the dance floor to perform the rumba, all her nerves melted away.

“Elliot was brilliant. We rehearsed but we didn’t over-rehearse because he said it would stress me out.
“When I found out I was doing the rumba I was really nervous because it’s such a technical dance but I loved it and I’d do it again.”

Judges Pasha Kovalev, Vito Coppola, Joanne Clifton and Pasquale La Rocca were so impressed by Emma’s performance that they awarded her two 9s and two 8s, putting her in second place.

Lifelong Strictly Come Dancing fan Emma wore a daring red dress to perform and said she couldn’t believe it when she saw it. “We were called in one by one to see our outfits and when I saw mine, I just said…. Is that for me?” she laughed. “Every bit of it sparkled, except the sleeves, which were mesh. I loved it.”

And she didn’t hold back when it came to stage make up either.

“Everyone was saying, oh no, I just want subtle make up,” she recalled. “The makeup lady looked at me and said, you want to go for it don’t you? What about false eyelashes? I just said the bigger the better – I’m only here once, let’s do it!”

Emma’s colleagues from Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s dementia rapid response team in Chesterfield travelled up to Blackpool to support her, with those who couldn’t make it watching the live stream.

“Everyone from Derbyshire Healthcare has been so supportive. I work in a really lovely team,” she said. “Linda, who won performing the jive, was absolutely brilliant. She had such amazing energy throughout and really deserved it.”
And she has a special message for everyone who supported her during her toe-tapping journey.

“It’s been fantastic,” she said. “I’ve loved every minute but the best bit is how much money we have raised for such an important charity. Thank you to everyone who has donated, your money really will make a difference.”

You can still donate to Emma’s JustGiving page at Emma Rodrigues is fundraising for Tia's Crown (