Margaret Jones, 'inspirational' stage school founder, dies on 88th birthday

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved dance school founder after she died on her 88th birthday yesterday (April 12.)

Monday, 13th April 2020, 2:45 pm
Updated Monday, 13th April 2020, 2:49 pm

Margaret Jones, more commonly known as "Miss Jones" to her dance pupils, friends and colleagues, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital yesterday morning (Sunday April 12) after being admitted with chest pains and pneumonia. It is understood that while in hospital, Miss Jones was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Originally from Chorley, Miss Jones began her dancing legacy at the age of 14, when she set up the Mar-Jan Stage School from her home.

While teaching thousands of pupils from her Chorley stage school over the years, Margaret married Brian Sargeant and together they had two sons, Russell and Byron. Byron sadly passed away 13 years ago.

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Margaret Jones, founder of the Mar-Jan Stage school in Chorley, died in Blackpool Victoria Hospital on her 88th Birthday yesterday (April 12.) Photo: Gillian Pilkington

Miss Jones went on to become a dance examiner, and travelled the world helping children to achieve their dancing dreams and pass their exams.

After her husband's death, she moved to Lemon Tree Court in Lytham to be closer to her son Russell, who lived in Blackpool.

She taught children and adults alike the arts of tap, ballet, and modern jazz until 1996, when Miss Jones handed over her much-beloved school to her former pupil, colleague and good friend Gillian Pilkington.

Gillian, 63, said she was deeply saddened by Margaret's death and that Miss Jones' "legacy will live on" within the stage school.

"I was a Mar-Jan stage school pupil from the age of three, and Miss Jones has always treated me as family," she said.

"I came back to Chorley after a career in dancing and decided to go to the Mar-Jan school and help with the teaching there.

"When Margaret decided she wanted to retire in 1996, she asked me to take over the school which was a real honour. She had worked so hard over the years to build the school up and I couldn't believe it when she offered it to me.

"The tributes on the school's Facebook page are a real testament to her, she will be greatly missed."

Tributes have poured in on social media after the news of Miss Jones' death, with many friends and pupils paying their respects to their "inspirational teacher."

Bev Jolly said: "Miss Jones was an institution who instilled the virtues of commitment, hard work and dedication in several generations. She had a wonderful life, she was an inspiration, she was well loved and she will be missed."

Becky Prince said: "It's so heart-breakingly sad. She was one of the most amazing ladies and it was a privilege to be taught by her. Thank you Miss Jones- for everything."

Suzanne Clandon said: "She was probably my favourite BTDA examiners throughout my childhood years. Joyful, generous & uplifting."