HIS performance on Strictly Come Dancing may not have set the judges alight, but Michael Vaughan was totally in step when he visited Sheffield High School this week.
The former England cricket captain, who lives in Baslow, won plenty of young admirers as he met students with professional dance partner Natalie Lowe and received a £12,000 cheque in memory of pupil Alex Reid, who died in her sleep at the age of 16 from an undiagnosed heart condition last June.
The money is going to the charity CRY - Cardiac Risk in the Young.
Michael and Natalie combined the worlds of sport and dancing, both of which Alex loved.
The cheque was handed over by her parents, John and Heather, and their younger daughter Jenn, aged 15, who live in Thorpe Salvin, Rotherham,
Heather said: “She loved her life, she had a great time - she was very vibrant, very compassionate and everybody loved her. She was very sporty - playing netball and swimming to a high level - and she loved dancing too, so she would love all this.”
Alex’s dad, a GP in Kiveton Park, said: “Alex was a very talented sportswoman - whether it was netball, swimming, downhill skiing, so she was very fit and athletic. There were no signs at all that anything was wrong with her heart. It came completely out of the blue, there was no suspicion at all that anything was wrong.
“We are supporting CRY to raise awareness that 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions every week.”
Michael knew Alex and has himself raised money for CRY.
The £12,000 was raised in an evening at the school last month which celebrated Alex’s life and was attended by more than 800 friends, family and teachers.
Called The Only Way Is Alex, it featured everything from a netball match to a range of stalls chosen to reflect her favourite things to do. Five hundred balloons, with messages, were released at midnight, as her 17th birthday arrived.
High School spokeswoman Helen Thorneloe said Tuesday’s special assembly was “fantastic. Michael Vaughan and Natalie Lowe were wonderful, so down to earth and very gracious. They did a question and answer session which went down very well. It couldn’t have been better. Alex was a very keen sportwoman and dancer.” The students discovered that the next dance the pair are set to perform on the hit TV show is the cha-cha-cha to the theme tune to the Full Monty, which was filmed in Sheffield.
As a ‘thank you’ for visiting the school, Michael was presented with a hanging basket - after Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli said his ‘backside’ resembled one during his jive last Saturday, which failed to impress judges.
Both he and Natalie burst into hysterics when the gift was handed over, before Michael posted for photographs with the pupils.
He revealed he spends eight hours a day practicing his dances.
“With the standard of my jive last week you may not realise this but I put eight hours a day in last week.
“Natalie is working me very hard,” he said.
He said he won’t be ‘waltzing down the streets of Sheffield ‘ for the rest of his life after the show but said he was enjoying taking part in the show.
“It’s a dance show but it’s more than that, its an entertainment show and I hope I will be able to entertain some more after Saturday.”