Shirley Ballas has revealed she will be celebrating Christmas for the first time in 15 years, and credits Strictly Come Dancing for making her feel festive again.
The 58-year-old star found it difficult to celebrate the holiday after her brother David committed suicide in December 2003, aged just 44.
Despite having a child in the house after taking in her niece Mary, Shirley still found it hard to get into the festive spirit – but says fans of the BBC dance show have helped her.
“The fans have sent me so many beautiful, supportive messages about my brother, it’s all helped me reinvent Christmas,” she said during an interview with You magazine.
“It’s impossible not to be inspired by such a sparkly merry-go-round of a show. So for the first time in years the house will feel celebratory like it used to.”
The former dance champion continued: “There will be a place at the table for David, a photo of him and Mary by the tree, and I’ll buy a massive box of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk for him.
“It’s been a long time, but I’ve finally understood that life goes on and we must make the most of every second.”
Explaining why she found it so difficult to celebrate before now, Shirley said: “There was no way we could enjoy Christmas without David.
“I couldn’t believe he wasn’t there, eating his treble helpings of Christmas dinner with ten glasses of milk.
“David wasn’t a drinker but he loved milk and chocolate – he was a chocoholic. After David died Mum threw away all the decorations.’
Earlier this month, Shirley paid tribute to her sibling to mark the anniversary of his death.
Sharing several photos, she captioned the post: “Dear Dear David. Sending you lots of love for tomorrow 5 th December, it’s been 15 long years since I last saw your beautiful face , and felt your safe arms around me.
“We all miss you soo much, everyday you are still in our hearts, and I know your spirit will always be with us. I truly cherish all the fun moments we had in life together.
“You where simply the best brother a sister could have , You will always be the No 1 man in my life. I truly truly miss you every day of every week of every year .
“You where always there for me. With love and gratitude for the time we got to spend together. Shirley x #love #missyou #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #reachout #family.”
Wishing Shirley and her family a very happy Christmas…