TRIBUTES have been paid to a headteacher who was at the helm of a borough high school for 20 years.

Frank Bennett, who was the first head at Woodhey High, in Ramsbottom, has died at the age of 82.

He died in hospital, it is understood, after a prolonged illness.

His successors, Brian Roadnight and Martin Braidley, have both recalled the impact Mr Bennett had on the Ramsbotttom school.

Mr Roadnight, the current Woodhey headteacher, said: "Frank was Woodhey's first headteacher and played a large part in the design of the school as well as appointing all its staff before the school opened in 1979.

"In the 20 years that he was headteacher, Frank set up the blueprint for the successful school that continues to serve the Ramsbottom community well.

"Woodhey has only had three Headteachers and I have spoken this morning to Martin Braidley, who was Woodhey's second headteacher.

"Martin said that it had been a privilege to take over the school from Frank Bennett as he had set up a school that held as much importance on extra-curricular (activities) in particular sport, music and drama, as it did on high academic standards.

"Frank could not have been more supportive when Martin took over and clearly the school was very close to Frank's heart.

"I was fortunate enough to work with Frank, as he appointed me to Woodhey in 1997. He was a strong supportive headteacher and I am proud to be able to carry on his strong tradition of a school where children work hard, play hard, achieve success and grow to be well-rounded individuals.

"Frank will be mourned by the whole school community, but his huge contribution will forever be remembered as today's pupils attend assemblies in the 'Frank Bennett Hall' every day."

Mr Roadnight said that the thoughts of the school were with his wife Kay and the rest of the family.

No funeral arrangements have yet been announced but a memorial service may take place later, once the current restrictions are lifted.