A THANKSGIVING service was held earlier today following the death of a former headmistress of Bury Grammar School for Girls.

Tributes were paid by family, friends and colleagues of Janet Lawley, who held the post from 1987 to 1998.

School governors and leaders have described Miss Lawley, who died aged 81 in hospital on April 15, as "truly inspirational".

Jo Anderson, the current BGS headmistress, said: " I loved the fact that Janet had so much to say, so much lust for life and learning and so much enthusiasm for Bury Grammar, right until the end.

"Anyone who spent more than a few minutes with Janet would know, above all, this one very important thing about her - she truly loved Bury Grammar School and our community.”

Suzanne Gauge, Miss Lawley’s first Head Girl, who is now a governor and parent at Bury Grammar, added: “Janet was a wonderful human being in so many ways.

"She was intelligent, articulate, strong, witty, wise, kind and supportive - her door was always open.

"She was a fine headmistress, a passionate geographer and a leading educationalist but above all she was an inspiration to all who knew her and for me, personally, she was a true and valued friend. I shall miss our chats and her wise words.”

Miss Lawley grew up in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire and read Geography at the University of Bristol. She also worked at the City of Bath Girls’ School, Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School, Crosby and King George V Sixth Form College, before taking the helm mat BGS.

As reported at the time, the educationalist, who lived in Greenmount, would write about her experiences in the memoir A Ballet of Swans.

An 80th birthday party was staged for her by the school and she also recently unveiled a plaque for the school's 450th anniversary.

Mrs Anderson added: “We were thrilled that she unveiled our 450 Plaque in the Roger Kay Hall.

"Her words of address on that day were, as ever, insightful and inspirational. I think it is fitting that the last time I saw her was in the hall she loved, in the school she loved, addressing the community she loved."

In her own words in her memoir, Miss Lawley said: "I hope many generations of Swans will be interested in the school's history, their story, learn to understand who they are, find what they can do and take on the world."

A memorial service is being planned by the school for Miss Lawley later in the year. A book of condolences, memories and pictures illustrating her life is being compiled and any contributions can be shared by initially e-mailing condolences@burygrammar.com or calling 0161 764 1733.