It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the death of Betty Jessiman from Huntly, Scotland.
Betty founded the Jessiman Dance School in 1951. Betty was born in 1921, one of six children. She started dancing at the tender age of 4 with her mother and siblings.
Betty then went to lessons at Miss Guthrie’s School in Huntly where she performed at many concerts with her three sisters, Gertie, Isobel and Margaret.
Betty and Margaret, her younger sister, went round the local games competing until 1939 when World War II broke out. The Highland Games were stopped during the war and Betty joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) when she was 18 years old. After the war, Betty continued her dancing career and joined Madame Ada’s Ballet School in Edinburgh and extended her dancing skills to ballet and tap. She gained teaching certificates in all 3 with the British Ballet Organisation and UK Alliance. She went on to teach for Miss Calder in Edinburgh before coming back to Huntly to start her own school.
Betty’s pupils were very successful over the years winning many trophies at the Highland Games in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the 1960’s, a number of boys took part in the Scottish Boys Championships held in Edinburgh and won.
In 1961, Betty Jessiman won the Adult World Dancing Champion at the tender age of 40!
In 1966, Sandra Aberdein from Keith, one of Betty’s pupils won the Junior World Championship.
In the 1980’s, Betty started to teach in Aberdeen and Banff as well as the existing venues. By this time, Patricia Ann was qualified as a teacher and started to take her own classes in Aberchirder and accompanied her mother at the other venues.
Betty was involved in the Gordon 2000 celebrations by this time she was well into her seventies. Patricia Ann then started the preparations for the 2001 Presentation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dance School which was held in the School Assembly Halls in June.
Last year the school celebrated its 60th Anniversary of the Dance School by holding two presentations, one in Keith where 80 dancers took part and one in Huntly where 120 danced ‘through the years’.
Our thoughts are with Betty’s family and friends at this sad time.