Surprise party for dance tutor Gillian

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A well-known Chorley dance teacher stepped out into a truly lovely surprise.

Gillian Pilkington, principal of Gillies Mar-Jane Stage School, enjoyed a double celebration on Saturday. Not only did she turn 60, but she also took over the lease on the Vibe Studio, Fellery Street, where the school is based.

Gillian was given a surprise presentation with children from the school, their parents, and staff there for the occasion.

The school – originally the Mar-Jan Stage School – has been going for more than 70 years and Gillian been going to classes there since she was just three.

“It was a real surprise, I had no idea, it was lovely,” said Gillian, who received gifts of flowers, chocolates, a silver bangle and a glass vase which was engraved with ballet shoes.

“I had just taken out the lease on the building so that was at the forefront of my mind. My brithday was at the back of my mind.

“I just went to work on Saturday, I didn’t really expect anything. My senior students had brought in fairy cakes and I thought that was it but when I finished with my classes at 4 o’clock the doors opened and everybody shouted ‘surprise’. “It was totally unexpected.”

The school, which teaches, ballet, tap, modern/jazz, street dance and acrobatics, has been at the Vibe for three-and-a-half years after operating for many years at Park Street, Chorley.

It was originally launched by Margaret Jones.

Looking back at her career as a dance teacher Gillian said: “It’s been a bit of a fairy story.

“I started at three years old, my mum took me along because I was really shy, it was the doctor who suggested it. Later I went onto stage school and came back to the school to teach there.

“When I got married and had children I opened my own little school in Adlington.

“The out of the blue Margaret offered me the school. That was 21 years ago now. It’s just become like a family.”

The school will be putting on a huge charity show in July. In previous years it has raised more than £7,000 from its shows.