Well-known dance tutor dies, aged 90

Betty Ford.
Betty Ford.
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A well-known dance teacher and former city councillor has died at the age of 90.

Betty Spencer Ford (nee Raynor) was born at 37 Victoria Street Morecambe but moved across the road to number 36 when very young.

Betty Ford in a dancing pose in her earlier years.

Betty Ford in a dancing pose in her earlier years.

She attended Euston Road School where she knew Eric Bartholomew, later to become Eric Morecambe. During the war her home became an RAF billet operated by her mother housing upto 14 RAF or WAAF personnel at any one time.

Betty loved dancing from an early age and had lessons locally but later travelled to London to study at Sadlers Wells. Having quaified as a dance teacher she opened a number of dance schools, starting with her own studio at 36 Victoria Street.Betty was also dancing mistress for many local amateur dramatic groups. She first met her husband Colin when he came for ballroom dancing lessons. They married at St Lawrence’s Church in 1950 and went on to have five children – Andrew, Galen, Gillian, Tim and Dianne.

Although she closed her dancing schools when she married she always kept herself busy with family and helping her husband in his business [Taylors Chemist]. She became a member of a number of local organisations and was president of Morecambe & Heysham Business and Professional Women’s Association and secretary of the local branch of the NSPCC.

She was a driver for Meals on Wheels, ward co-odinator for the Good Neighbours Scheme, secretary of the North West Cancer Research Committee.

Using her dancing and teaching skills she taught physical education at the Royal Albert Hospital for a number of years and then went on to teach Keep Active for over 60s at the college in Poulton, Morecambe.

The latter led to the formation of the Morecambe & Heysham Music and Movement Association.She was involved with the Morecambe Carnival Committee for many years and organised many events to raise money to ensure it survived until the Millennium.

Betty also staged an annual dance festival to encourage local up and coming dancers, the last one being held at Lancaster & Morecambe College.

In 1995 Betty organised an RAF reunion at the Grosvenor Hotel where she was reunited with some of the servicemen who had been billeted at her house during the war.

Betty also served as a city councillor representing Heysham Central, was appointed to Lancaster & District Health Authority and was a member of Bolton-le-Sands Women’s Institute, where she won numerous prizes for her baking and flower arrangements

During the latter years of her life she suffered from Alzheimers and spent two years in the Mayfair Residential Home before moving to the Sands Nursing Home when her condition deteriorated. She passed away peacefully on May 22.Her funeral will take place at 4.15pm on Friday June 2 at Lancaster and Morecambe Crematorium.