Jess Jameson, who has died aged 89, played a major part in the growth and development of the Mrs Sunderland Music Festival being an active chairman between 1976 and 2000.
Jess lived in Golcar for 33 years as wife of GP Dr Ron Jameson and mother of Pippa and Susie. She moved to Fixby when he retired in 1988.
Jess was born and grew up in London and went to Haberdashers Askes School before moving on to the Royal Academy of Music. She achieved the prestigious qualifications of Licenciate of the Royal Academy of Music, Associate of the Royal College of Music and Graduate of the Royal Schools of Music.
Her involvement with the Mrs Sunderland began as a piano accompanist. She soon also became a member of the committee and was made chairman in 1976. In 2000, when she had to reduce the activities for health reasons, she was made the first president of the festival in recognition of her work, a position which she held until her death. She became an honorary life member in 2015. The Jessie Jameson Centenary Baton remains the first prize in the choir finals at the festival.
Fellow committee member J Michael Hampshire, who later succeeded her as chairman, commented on the “aura of calm, gentleness and graciousness” with which she chaired meetings and attributes the fact that the festival is held in such high esteem today as being mainly due to her devoted service over many years.
He said that when money was needed to keep the festival solvent, Jess spent much of her time writing to numerous businesses and banks seeking sponsorship. Over the years, she raised considerable sums of money and played a major part in putting the festival on a sound financial footing.
Jess was a member of the British Federation of Music festivals and served as an adjudicator at many festivals nationally. She was also a committee member and president of Huddersfield Philharmonic orchestra.
Affectionately known as Mrs J to her students, she taught the piano for more than 20 years at the music department at Bretton Hall College and was much loved and respected by her students and colleagues. She also gave private piano lessons, often to the second generation in the same family, and many of her pupils had considerable success in music festivals and Associated Board examinations.
Her daughter Susie said her mother wanted all her pupils to enjoy their music-making whether as a hobby or as a career. Several went on to have successful careers in music having been inspired by her teaching and love of music.
Her Christian faith was a highly motivating factor which underpinned all her activities. She was an active member of Gideons International and of Lindley Evangelical Church, where she served as a deacon and pianist for many years.
A thanksgiving service will be held at 11am on Friday, August 11, at St Thomas’ Church, Bradley.