After ten wonderful years, and with a truly heavy heart, I have decided to decline the BBC's very kind offer to compete again in series eleven, and have withdrawn from being a competitive dancer on Strictly Come Dancing.
It's been a very hard decision to make, but it's time for a change and to focus my attention on new challenges. That said, it's not necessarily farewell to Strictly, as I do hope to continue being a part of the show.
With this change in mind, it's a timely opportunity to look back over the last ten series. I feel so privileged to have been involved with the show since it began almost a decade ago when both Anton and I were invited by the BBC to dance in the very first series. It's amazing to be part of something so very special - a global phenomenon! - that not only brought ballroom dancing back into favour, but also onto prime-time television, capturing the hearts and imaginations of viewers - and encouraging people to enjoy dance, too!
It's been so much fun making new friends, meeting wonderful people, and of course being partnered with such lovely celebrities year after year. I'm going to miss spending so much time with my amazing fellow professional dancers - it's true what they say, Strictly really is just like a great big family! From its inspirational producers; the dedicated crew who work so tirelessly behind the scenes; the costume, hair and make-up teams who've made me look so fabulous every week, and of course the wonderful Strictly house band of musicians and singers who never miss a beat, everybody continually works so very hard to push the boundaries and make each series bigger, better and more spectacular!
Strictly wouldn't be Strictly without you, the fans, and I can't thank you enough for all the encouragement and support you've given me and my celebrity partners over the past ten series - you've made this wonderful journey all the more magical.
With so many incredible moments and happy memories it's hard to pick my favourites, and it would be impossible to choose between my wonderful partners... so I'm simply going to leave you with some pro-dance highlights where Anton and I were lucky enough to perform alongside world class artistes. Enjoy!
I'm certainly not hanging up my dancing shoes and retiring from the ballroom... far from it! I'm going to be doing more television work, choreography and teaching (news on that to follow!), and Anton and I will still be performing at shows and events across the country as usual... keep an eye on our websites and twitter for all the latest!
So, it's ciao for now, but in the words of Brucie himself... Keeeeeeeeep dancing!!
Lots of love,