TAMWORTH’S Lawrie Hatfield knows the shattering impact of losing a loved one to cancer and he’s determined to do all he can to make a difference – even if it means leaving his comfort zone for a stint on the dancefloor.
Mr Hatfield and dance partner Montana Jones, an Oxley High student, will put their best feet forward for this year’s Celebrity Dance for Cancer, with a Michael Jackson number their inspiration.
He said he hadn’t needed a lot of encouragement to agree to the dance challenge, although admits he’s a lot more comfortable with the fundraising aspect than he is with the dancing.
Already an old hand at fundraising for the Cancer Council – he’s participated in the past four Relays for Life – a series of personal tragedies spurs him on.
Mr Hatfield has been touched by the insidious disease more than most, losing his father, who was just 31, at the age of three.
It had a “substantial effect” on his family, he said, and now a father himself with five children aged 18 to 27, he’s determined to do all he can to find a cure – or at least improve a victim’s chances of survival.
Mr Hatfield would later lose his mother to cancer, as well as his mother-in-law, and his father-in-law is fighting the disease.
It’s all the motivation he needs to squeeze dance lessons into his hectic schedule.
When he started a few months ago, he told teacher Cherie Gates she would have a job on her hands, considering his last formal dance experience was at a high school debutant ball.
However, with less than two weeks to go, he believes he’s finally making some progress.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a really good challenge and it’s going well,” Mr Hatfield said.
And if he needs any further encouragement during those gruelling practice sessions, he can always count on family.
“My wife (Jennifer) is there, telling me how to shimmy when she doesn’t think I’m doing it properly,” he laughs.
Underpinning it all, though, is a strong belief in the research effort that’s already making inroads into the disease and faith there are many more breakthroughs ahead.
“We just have to believe this is possible and do everything we can,” he said.
“If (me dancing) makes for a better and brighter future for sufferers, then it’s all worth it.”