Congratulations Jennifer Wilson MBE
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PEOPLE stood and cheered when the newly honoured Jennifer Wilson walked into Forres Town Hall this week.
The band even struck up with the tune 'Congratulations'.
After a lifetime completely immersed in both teaching and performing Scottish country dance music Jennifer has been made a Member of the British Empire.
It's a life that has seen her invited all over the world, to Nigeria, Australia, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Denmark and the USA.
She's even played at a Scottish country dance in the Japanese capital Tokyo.
Reacting to being made an MBE, Jennifer said: "To get this award for doing something I have loved all my life is absolutely amazing.
"I certainly never did this for the money, it's always been just for the joy, so I'm so happy."
Elgin born and bred, Jennifer began learning to dance at the age of just four.
Then, at the age of seven, she was given the offer of a bike or a piano.
It wasn't a difficult choice.
However, the first few years of learning to play classical pieces were not the easiest.
As she admits herself it wasn't until she was finally given a Scottish piece to play that she came alive.
She said: "I was only 12 years old but, looking back, I have to say it really was a life changing experience."
Jennifer began giving dance lessons while still a teenager.
When her pupils travelled to competitions usually a pianist would be sitting in at the venue.
However she began insisting on providing the musical accompaniment herself when her own dancers performed.
The extra verve and rhythmic bounce provided by her playing resulted in a good deal of success.
In 1959 she was accepted as a dancer at the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society's summer school at St Andrews.
The 'Mecca' of Scottish dancing, the school had been co-founded in the 1920s by Jean Milligan, a highly indomitable lady who was a stickler for high standards.
One day, finding herself short of a pianist at a dancing seminar in Forres, Miss Milligan asked Jennifer to play.
After that she was invited as a pianist to the summer school.
All these years later she's still going strong, regularly playing at Roseisle.
Jennifer said: "Scottish Country Dance Music is such a social affair. It should be available on prescription.
"You meet lots of nice people and you don't need a partner to dance.
"It's got everything going for it."
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