Christmas heartbreak as Skegness dance school queen's 'shining star' dies

The man who 'never stopped Skegness' dancing queen from following her dream' in spite of his recent ill heath has sadly died.

One of Ivan's most memorable days was when he and Janice were invited to Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Garden Party.
One of Ivan's most memorable days was when he and Janice were invited to Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Garden Party.

Janice Sutton announced the sad death of her husband, Ian Sisson, on Wednesday. and spoke of how they had built their dream together by sharing love and understanding. She said: "It is with great sadness i have to announce the passing of my dearest husband, Ivan - my shining star.

"That we had together will never stop growing - that's a promise."

Janice Sutton Theatre School was established over 60 years ago and generations of students have been put in the spotlight and have gone on to find fame.

Janice and Ivan on their wedding day.

A commercial artist, over the years Ivan's work could be seen on the theatre school's posters and production props and he even helped with painting the scenery and designing carnival floats..

But it is was the special partnership he shared with Janice and her beloved righthand woman 'Miss Joy' Everett, who sadly died in July 2020, that has been attributed to the ongoing success of the school.

In spite of the tragic loss of 'Miss Joy' and Ivan's failing health, he continued giving Janice his support and encouragement to carry on.

Choreographer and former student Andrew Davison paid tribute to Ivan and said: "Unfortunately, due to poor eyesight, Ivan had to retire early and sell his business, but he continued to support Janice and never missed a show until he had an accident, which made it difficult to walk.

Ivan helped design and prepare Skegness Carnival l floats.

"Janice has looked after Ivan the past few years, but he never stopped her from chasing her dream of producing her shows and bringing Joy to the hundreds of people that attend her shows and the pupils that attend her school."

Ivan was born in Ilkeston Derbyshire to Jim and Hilda and had two sisters, Rita and Edna. His father owned and ran a cycle shop.

His interest in art began while at school and he was head boy in his last year of education.

After serving his National Service in the Royal Signals of the British Army, gaining the title of Corporal Sisson, he took a job in Nottingham as a commercial artist learning the craft of sign writing. He applied for a job at Butlin’s House in Skegness after seeing an advert in the newspaper and moved to the resort in 1957.

Ivan used his artistic skills to design the theatre school's carnival floats.

From then on the town became his home, making friends with his work college John Holdcroft his life and career would blossom.

Ivan and John went into business together creating WEB Publicity when Butlin’s decided to close their in house publicity department.

Their artistic talents could be seen all over Skegness with shop signs and displays and later on theatre posters for all the entertainment venues of the town. These included the Follies Shows on Skegness Pier and the Embassy Centre when it was changed from a ballroom to a theatre in the 80’s.

Ivan’s life changed when John set him up on a blind date with a local girl from Wainfleet, Miss Janice Sutton.

Andrew said: "They clicked straight away and as their relationship blossomed.

"Janice had Ivan helping her by making props and painting scenery for her dance school shows at The Coronation Hall in Wainfleet.

"As both of them were hard workers and had businesses that were growing, it was a while before they found time to get married.

"But in 1970 they tied the knot at Croft Church on an autumn day surround by friends and family.

"Their married life was a roller coaster of events; Ivan was the true rock behind Janice’s success as a dance teacher, business owner and show producer."

Ivan was a keen photographer and would do the pupils' portraits for presentations. He also drove the school bus which they had when children where performing at the Derbyshire Miners Holiday Camp in Winthorpe and even taking them up to Leeds to perform at Yorkshire Television for the

Junior Showtime Programme.

His artistic talents were put to use on carnival day, when he designed and built the schools floats. For a few years this involved three lorries, decorated with the help from parents of the school.

"When Janice was asked to produce a summer season show at the Embassy Centre, Ivan was fully on board and took on the role of Front of House for the school (of course still maintaining his scenery and prop making and poster design duties)," recalled |Andrew. "He was very proud of Janice and all the pupils on stage who he watched with pride over the years.

"He was always smartly dressed ready to greet the theatre patrons with a warm smile."

The highlight of life was when he and Janice were invited to Buckingham Place for the Queens Garden Party in 2002. It was a day he always

remembered and would talk about often with fond memories.

The funeral takes place on Monday, January 24, at Alford Crematorium at 1pm, followed by a wake at Wolfies wine bar Skegness