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Glittering prize for Lochaber film-maker Hamza Yassin as he waltzes off with Strictly’s famous trophy

© Guy Levy/PA WireHamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal dance in the semi
Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystal dance in the semi

Hamza Yassin waltzed off with the famous Glitterball last night after winning Strictly with his partner Jowita Przystal.

The wildlife presenter from Lochaber, who has been the breakout star of the 20th series of the BBC dance show, delivered three spectacular dances to impress the judges and won the viewers’ vote to secure glory in the final.

He fought back tears after the result was announced, before paying tribute to his partner, telling her: “Words can’t describe how I feel. You are an angel disguised as a human being. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

In response, Jowita told him: ‘He’s just proof that anything is possible.”

Three other couples – Fleur East and her professional partner Vito Coppola, Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu, and Helen Skelton and Gorka Marquez – contested the final last night. They all performed a routine chosen by the judges, their own favourite dance and finally a show dance.

Each of the finalists have topped the Strictly leaderboard at some point – Yassin five times, East and Skelton twice and Rainford once – during their time on the show.

The Animal Park, Let’s Go For A Walk and Countryfile host’s victory prompted celebrations in his adopted Highlands home where villagers were cheering him on in the community centre. Sudan-born Yassin, 32, will now enjoy a hero’s homecoming on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and before the final, he promised: “Scotland will always be my home and I will never leave it.

“I might travel the world and go to see and film some beautiful places, but I’ll always come back to my homeland of Scotland. I was born in Africa, raised there a little bit, but my newfound love is Scotland and I want to say thank you to all the Scottish people who have been voting and helping me through.”

Hamza with with Amanda Gane, his “Scottish mum” in Wester Ross
Hamza with with Amanda Gane, his “Scottish mum” in Wester Ross

And Ardnamurchan cannot wait to have him back. Rosie Curtis, 53, heads the local Highland Games for the West Ardnamurchan Show and Sports Committee and has known Yassin since he arrived to film its wildlife while living in the back of his van a little more than 12 years ago.

The mum of three, who is also a firefighter and member of the coastguard, has watched in awe as Yassin swapped the talents he honed in caber tossing, tug o’ war and cèilidh dancing for the Charleston and the American Smooth.

She said: “Ardnamurchan has been gripped by what Hamza has achieved. We’ve all been behind him. He only broke into wildlife TV in the last few years and we’ve been watching him on Animal Park, Countryfile and Ranger Hamza. And now he is not just on the telly, he is the telly.

“Hamza is coming home a star. He has been away from the community for quite a long while and people are really ready to have him back. What a homecoming he will have – it is going to be amazing.”

Meanwhile, Amanda Gane, 56, the Ardnamurchan woman he has adopted as his “Scottish mum”, said: “Everyone says what a revelation Hamza is but I knew he could dance from the cèilidhs we’ve been to. I knew he was light-footed and had fantastic balance because I have seen him hopping from boats and rocks.

“I knew that as soon as the public got to see what kind of guy he was, they would fall in love with him. It’s impossible not to. He collects friends and people that love him like others collect shells on the beach.”

Gane, who with her husband Chris, 58, has a grown-up son and twin daughters, said she was delighted for Yassin’s parents south of the border. “Hamza is really close to his mum and dad – I’m just the back-up. Chris and I call him our African son. We are extremely proud of him.”

As the last show of the Strictly season aired last night, his friends and fans on the peninsula turned out in all their glitz to cheer him on from the community centre where the final was on the big screen.

Curtis, 53, said: “We’re a small community but we’ve been going to the community centre every week to watch the competition on the big screen.

“Everyone’s been buzzing. When Hamza started out on the show with his first dance we were thinking ‘this is interesting’. But a lot of folk have been to cèilidhs in the hall where he was learning to do Highland dances and he picked them up quite quickly, so we knew he was going to be OK. He has been consistent from day one and has just gotten better and better. It’s his lifts, they’re great!

“Hamza was already a star for us. We have seen him wearing his Ardnamurchan sweatshirt in training sessions, he has had his home blazoned across his chest every week and has put us on the map big style.”

‘Strictly’ll be fine. I’m used to ceilidhs in Ardnamurchan’: Countryfile’s Hamza Yassin on why Highland life will help him on the dancefloor

The youngest in a family of three, he moved to the UK from Sudan as a child after his medic parents were invited to work here by the Royal College of Medicine and settled in Northampton. He went on to receive a degree in zoology with conservation from Bangor University in 2011 and a further master’s degree in biological photography and imaging.

He came to the Highlands after university and revealed: “It is the longest I have lived in a place. Do I feel like it is home? One hundred per cent. Have the people accepted me? Two thousand per cent! I felt like Scotland is my home when I was as young as 14.”

Before the final, he said: “I truly feel that I’m a Scotsman. It’s crazy because when I first came to the UK at the age of 13, I got my first kilt and after that, I’ve always been wearing kilts, whenever I get the chance to. It means the world to me.”