Originally hailing from a small town in New Zealand, Mary Whitehouse made her way to Narrabri 20 years ago and fell in love with the area.

“I came here to work for CSIRO and never left – now I live here with my partner Alex, our two kids, two dogs, three cats, two parrots and numerous spiders.”

Ms Whitehouse is keen to make her mark in this year’s Stars of Narrabri, excited by the chance to raise funds for such a worthy cause.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to contribute to the Cancer Council by doing something I love,” she said.

“Like most people, I have close friends who are cancer survivors and know of people who have lost their lives to the illness.”

“My father died of melanoma, his parents had cancer, and so it is a constant threat to our family.

“Cancer is an insidious disease that claims many people before their time, so fundraisers like Stars of Narrabri are important.”

Ms Whitehouse will be dancing with fellow scientist and colleague Ethan Towns. The duo has been hard at work, practising under the watchful eye of local dancer guru Kim Owens.

Ms Whitehouse is grateful for the support she’s received from both her dance partner and teacher.

“Kim Owens is very tolerant and has developed a great routine for the song I picked,” she said.

“My dance partner, Ethan Towns, is also excellent – he stepped up to the plate to help me out and so far, has survived with his toes intact.”

Their dance is a salsa, with an exotic song Ms Whitehouse has fond memories of.

“In the early ‘90s I lived in Venezuela for two years, here I tried my hand at many dance styles including salsa,” she said.

“I remembered a salsa song from that time that was very melodramatic that I thought could be fun to choreograph, but I couldn’t remember its name in Spanish – luckily, a Venezuelan friend recognised it and sent me the link to it.”

While they’ve been busy practising the routine, Ms Whitehouse and Mr Towns have also been hard at work preparing for the event with fundraising and outfit arrangements.

The pair held their first fundraiser at the local Australian Cotton Research Institute, where they hosted a morning tea that raised just under $300.

Friends and family have continued to donate to the team online, with Ms Whitehouse’s total currently sitting just below $700.

When considering what she’d wear for the big event, Ms Whitehouse turned to local seamstress Ursula Fish, of Ursh’s Fabrics and Haberdashery.

“She has agreed to make the salsa dress of my dreams,” Ms Whitehouse said.

The sparkly blue number, paired with exciting salsa moves, will truly dazzle the audience at next month’s event.

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