A WONDERFUL leader and teacher who changed lives for the better.

Those few words capture the essence of the many tributes that are flowing to Monica Gallimore (pictured right) the headteacher of St Cuthberts secondary school who has died aged 64.

The highly respected principal, who lived with her husband Kevin in Rainhill, passed away on Saturday after a short illness.

Father Phillip Swanson, chair of governors at the high school on Berrys Lane, Parr, said: “Monica’s wish was always to teach and she gave her whole teaching career to the young people of St Helens. She always strove to do the best and her aim was always to give them a ‘ticket to ride’. A fighting chance in life.”

The sad news prompted an outpouring of tributes on the Star’s Facebook page from pupils past and present.

A former St Helens schoolgirl, she studied at Notre Dame grammar school before graduating to Notre Dame College, Liverpool in 1970. She then embarked on a teaching career in St Helens that spanned 42 years, starting at Mount Carmel high school before becoming deputy head at St Cuthbert’s in 1984.

Her promotion to headteacher came in 2008.

Carole Hudson, chief executive at St Helens Council, was among those paying tribute: “Monica was a wonderful person, a consummate professional and an absolute pleasure to work alongside.

“It is not often you can say that someone changed lives for the better but Monica’s enthusiasm and commitment to education was inspirational to all who had the privilege to know her.

“Her work with young people was remarkable, instilling in them a real thirst for learning and providing them with a sense of community and stability.”

Once a Cuthies kid, always a Cuthies kid...your tributes on Facebook

Tasha Shields wrote:” RIP Mrs Gallimore, you were a real inspiration to all your pupils! You put everything you could into the school and I know your spirit will live on in cuthies!! I'm sure at the "100 year anniversary play" (like we did with the 50 year anniversary play) someone will play your role and the saying "once a cuthies kid always a cuthies kid" will be said a few times!! Thoughts are with the Gallimore family and the community of cuthies!! Xxxx”

Sarah Shepherd wrote: “A passionate, strong, respectful, proud lady. Never afraid to put forward what you believed in.”

Joanne Dyas wrote: “A special lady who has given most of her years to our school! Sending love & light to her family & friends, she will leave a huge space in the Cuthies Community. Thank you for everything Mrs G. You will never be forgotten! X”

Karen Davies wrote: “A sad day for her family and a huge loss for cuthies, thank u for helping my lad to find his way, uni now for him xx”