DURING her life big-hearted volunteer Audrey Downes dedicated her retirement years to the power of books and teaching school pupils how to read.

Two afternoons a week the incredible Mrs Downes, then in her 80s, would travel from her home in Tottington to All Saints Primary School in Whitefield.

There she would spend hours helping youngsters’ boost their reading and writing skills.

She sadly died in November 2018. However her family have ensured her generosity and love of reading have lived on by donating hundreds of books to All Saints.

Born in Stretford Mrs Downes moved to Prestwich as a child when her home was bombed during the Second World War. She worked as a clerical officer at Sunnybank clinic in Unsworth for 12 years until her retirement in 1980.

After reading an advertisement for volunteer reading helpers for the charity Beanstalk in the Bury Times she signed up and assisted All Saints Primary for over 12 years.

This week Mrs Downes’ granddaughter, Jennifer Shaw, visited the school to donate 163 books bought by her family using memory money raised at her funeral.

Another 37 books were donated by Bookseller Book People, and each of the 200 title contained a memorial plate inside.

Pupils and Mrs Downes family also held a special tribute assembly, including by five Year 6 children she had read with when they were in Year 1, who read poems they had written about her.

Ms Shaw, who has followed in her grandmother’s footsteps and now volunteer reads at her daughter’s school, said: “This felt like a fitting tribute to grandma and she would have been proud.”

All Saints headteacher Gail Branch added: “Audrey was a valued and committed member of our school team for many years. She loved her work as a volunteer reader and passed on her joy of reading to the children. They all have fond memories of her and we miss her. To have so many books donated to school in her memory is a fitting tribute to a wonderful lady. Many thanks to her family for their generosity.”