TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved retired Ryedale teacher, Pat Almond, who has died after a long illness.

After qualifying at Edge Hill Training College, Ormskirk, she started her career in 1968 at West Heslerton Primary School where she taught for six years until the birth of her two daughters, Caroline and Lucy.

Pat then returned to full-time teaching at Pickering Junior School where she stayed for 20 years until taking early retirement.

Soon afterwards she was approached to help with teaching music at Rosedale Abbey Junior School, where she also worked as a supply teacher.

Ten years later, in 2007, Pat retired for a second time after 10 years at Rosedale.

Her husband, Mick, said: “Pat’s days at Rosedale were some of the happiest in her teaching career. She loved working there, and made many friends and thoroughly enjoyed working with the children, parents and staff.”

Nicola Johnson, the headteacher at Rosedale, said: “In 32 years of teaching, 22 as a headteacher, I have never come across a more naturally talented teacher than Pat. She was a joy to work with.”

Mrs Johnson said: “Pat was Christmas-aholic and this year’s play, “Hey Ewe!” is dedicated to our precious Pat – she would have loved the songs.”

Mrs Almond was a parish councillor in her home village of West Ayton and was chairman for several years. She also worked part-time in the 1990s running creative writing courses in Rosedale, Egton Bridge and Whitby, developed and sponsored by The Open University. The Egton Bridge group is still thriving and has published two books of short stories and poetry.

She was musical director of the Ayton Ladies Choir, which she joined when it was in need of a keyboard player, and its members will be attending the funeral service on Monday.

Pat was also the author of a number of short stories and poetry, as well as family history. Painting was another of her hobbies, specialising in water- colours, along with watching Test cricket and travelling abroad.

Her funeral is to be held at Octon Crematorium on Monday at 1pm when mourners are asked to wear bright coloured clothing.