Tribute to former school teacher Mary Hirst

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Tributes have been paid to a former teacher who began her career at Pontefract Girls High School.

Mary Hirst joined the school’s geography and mathematics staff after qualifying as a teacher.

Mary, who attended Batley Girls Grammar School and Leeds University, then took up a teaching post at Heckmondwike Grammar School.

She taught geography to students in the 5th and 6th forms and was appointed Senior Mistress in 1964, later going on to become Deputy Head.

John Lockwood, who was head of geography when she first joined Heckmondwike, said: “After Mary’s retirement in 1985 it always gave her great pleasure to keep in touch with many of her former pupils and colleagues.

“It is the former girls who will particularly remember her for while strict on minor things, as a true feminist, she was always ready to help and advise, and was a strong support.”

In her retirement, Mary enjoyed painting and opera.

Through her own efforts and as chair of the Heckmondwike Support Committee, she also helped to raise more than £200,000 for Kirkwood Hospice with craft fairs, market stalls and garden parties.

Mary died, aged 90, last month.

A large congregation of former colleagues, friends and family attended her funeral at the Dewsbury Crematorium on April 1.