Column: Reality of life away from glitz of the ballroom

Strictly Come Dancing has become one of those TV shows that really captures the imagination and is good entertainment for huge numbers of people across the nation.

Thursday, 24th November 2016, 8:30 am
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster

Thousands join in the voting, many have a sweepstake on who might win and some are preparing their ‘Strictly’ parties before the great final.

In the early stages, the goal before them is to reach ‘Blackpool’ - the home of ballroom dancing – and what a spectacular show that always turns out to be with four tens – a perfect score – for one contestant this time.

But behind the glitz and glamour of the show in the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool, tells a different, far from perfect, story.

I well remember going to a primary school in my early days in the diocese and discovering the headteacher was using part of her school budget to buy beds for some of the poorest children.

In subsequent conversations with the staff, I met one lady doing a brilliant job helping parents to budget properly.

The local school is often a primary source of care and practical help for needy families and at the beginning of this term, as the school gates opened in September after the long summer break, at one school there was a loud cheer from parents and children – they were so glad to be back.

There are big challenges in Blackpool, for schools, businesses, political leaders and churches. The local council is acutely aware of the problems behind the Golden Mile and providing free breakfasts for primary school children has been a hugely effective piece of legislation.

Last week, I visited St George’s CofE Secondary School. Their mission statement is ‘Believe, Achieve, Care’.

It was obvious the faith factor was motivating this school community in such a way that good results and good pastoral care were evident.

Alongside the committed teaching staff and a superb chaplain was a new chair of governors - a man with whom I had a conversation several years ago at the same time as the then High Sheriff and I were meeting to discuss matters with the leader of the council.

It was so good to see Angus quietly getting involved on the ground and making his personal contribution to the young people – making a good school an ever better one.

Alongside education and council, the churches too have been playing their part.

A recent faith audit revealed an amazing volume and variety of projects and ministries all run by local volunteers designed to bring help and compassionate care to transform their communities.

I am reminded of the song (probably not sung on Strictly!) ‘I’ll lead you all, wherever you may, I am the Lord of the dance, said He.’