PUPILS and school staff have been left heartbroken by the death of a teacher.

Louise Whalley, 44, taught languages at Ss John Fisher and Thomas More RC High School in Colne.

The mother-of-two, who had two daughters aged seven and eight, died on Friday after a battle with cancer.

Colleagues paid tribute to the ‘natural born’ teacher who joined the Gibfield Road school in 1998 from Our Lady and St John Catholic College in Blackburn.

In a statement, headteacher Clare Hayes said: “The pupils, parents, staff and governors of Ss John Fisher & Thomas More RC High School were upset to learn of the death of Louise Whalley, a beloved member of the teaching staff and friend.

“Mrs Whalley died following a long-standing illness that she bore with great fortitude.”

Mrs Whalley taught modern foreign languages and in 2003 became second in the department and head of year nine.

In 2006, she was appointed head of modern foreign languages.

Mrs Hayes said: “Her passion for her chosen subject was immediately obvious to all who met her. She inspired many pupils to share her love of languages. She was a ‘natural’ teacher, born to the role.

“Following the birth of her beloved daughter, Mrs Whalley became a part-time teacher in 2009, but maintained her high standards and dedication to her chosen profession.

“We give thanks for the many years of inspirational and committed service Mrs Whalley gave to so many pupils in the East Lancashire area.

“Mrs Whalley’s faith inspired her to be compassionate, and, over the years, countless pupils have been touched by her generous spirit and kind nature.

“She had time for those who struggled, and was a passionate advocate for the less fortunate in society.

“Her many acts of kindness and charity are still felt in the school, and will not be forgotten.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Whalley’s friends and family at this time, and we hope they take comfort and strength from the knowledge that Mrs Whalley was loved and respected by all who met her.”

The news comes less than a year after the sudden death of RE teacher Claire Addington.

Tributes were also paid to Mrs Whalley on social media.

Lauren Smith said: “She was such an inspiration, great teacher as well as a great friend. She helped me a lot at high school. RIP Louise Whalley fly high with the Angels and with Claire Addington.”

Luke Walker wrote: “One of the most caring, thoughtful women I knew, always saw potential in anyone.”

While Simon Hickey said: “Rest in Peace Mrs Whalley. I knew her out of school as well from a young age and I can’t fail to say she’s one very special women. Heaven has indeed gained another angel.”

A book of condolence has been opened at the school. A date is to be set for the funeral but the school has confirmed it will close to allow pupils to attend.