MADAME BETTY RICHARDS-JONES
Betty was born in Tredegar
in April 1922. As a young girl she developed an interest in showbusiness and
took part in concert parties at the Tredegar workhouse. The young Betty
would practice her dance steps at home on a special board made by her
As a teenager Betty joined the cast of
"Casey's Court." She went on tour with them around
the country - indeed they even had their own train carriage with "Casey's
Court" written on the side!
Following on from "Casey's Court"
Betty joined Tredegar Merry Makers. This popular society put on shows in
Tredegar and the surrounding area. They were fun filled shows with singing,
dancing and comedy routines.
The 1940's saw the start of
Betty's involvement with The Tredegar Gang-Stars (some photos of the group
can be found on this website's In The Beginning page.) Betty would teach the
dance-steps in various venues over the years- the old YMCA building and
Mizpah hall may ring a bell with some of you!
As time went on Betty built up a
good reputation as a dance teacher and found herself not just teaching in
Tredegar but also had classes at Rhymney and Beaufort. She also obtained the
qualifications to teach from The International Dance Teachers Association
and also the prestigious Royal Academy Of Dance.
The early 1970s saw the beginning
of the well known and much loved "Starlite Parade" shows at Tredegar
Workmen's Hall and at Beaufort Theatre. In the mid 1970s the shows at
Beaufort changed their name to "Bobby Dazzlers." It was at the Beaufort
class that Betty taught ballet for examinations.
It was not just the youngsters
who benefited from Betty's teaching- tap dance classes for adults were also
Both Starlite Parade and Bobby
Dazzlers ran through the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. (Indeed Starlite
Parade was the last show ever to be performed at Tredegar Workmen's Hall in
1981.The venue for these shows then changed to Tredegar Comprehensive
School.) Betty even took part in some of the shows herself- much to the
delight of the audience!
During the 20 years these
shows ran Betty raised many thousands of pounds for charity and took the
shows to various venues in the valleys. In its final year Starlite Parade
took part in the Garden Festival celebrations at Ebbw Vale.
Despite not teaching dance since
the early 1990s Betty could still do all the steps- I myself witnessed her
doing a high kick or two! She also took great pleasure in watching the new
dance shows that have appeared on television in recent years and could often
pick out the winners!
Apart from the lady many of you
knew as Madame Betty Richards-Jones, Betty was also a much loved wife,
mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She was very close to her family.
I have lost a dear friend but am so
proud of her and all she achieved in her lifetime.
In loving memory of Betty 1922- 2006.