PUPILS, staff and parents at one of Blackburn’s most prestigious schools have paid tribute after the death of a former deputy headteacher.

Patricia Cave, who died on June 2 after a short illness, was known to generations of Westholme School pupils and staff as a devoted and hardworking teacher and leader.

Having joined the school in 1970 as a French teacher, Mrs Cave rose through the ranks to become deputy head in 1996, a role in which she was renowned for her high standards and leadership skills until her retirement in 2000.

Reflecting on the influence Mrs Cave had on young people under her care, former Westholme principal Lillian Croston said: “When interviewed about their career aspirations many sixth formers quoted Mrs Cave’s name as their role model.

“Pat inspired them, she insisted on high standards not only in academic work but also in personal behaviour, neat and tidy appearance, punctuality, attendance and commitment to school events.

“She worked very hard for them, cared about them and their futures and they, in turn respected, trusted and loved her.

“Pat’s sound common sense in all things ensured good judgement.

“Calm in a crisis, she could always see the funny side of things and had a great sense of fun. She often used laughter to ease tension and pressure.”

Born in 1941, Pat attended Blackburn High School for Girls and went on to study French at the University of Manchester from 1959 to 1962.

Having worked as an assistant French teacher at Blackburn High School for Girls and Pleckgate School, it was Westholme where Mrs Cave would make her greatest impact.

She joined when what is now one of the town’s most prominent institutions was only a small school which had recently moved to its Wilmar Lodge location and during her tenure would see it grow in size and stature.

Mrs Croston said: “Pat saw three decades of pupils through the school and was instrumental in establishing and building up its strong reputation in the locality.”

Outside of school, Mrs Cave was devoted to her husband Mike and to her daughter Katy, herself a former Westholme pupil who has followed in her mother’s footsteps to become a teacher, and son Andrew.

She was well-known for her love of France, which she often visited with husband Mike and for her strong Christian faith.

Mrs Croston said: “She was strong until the end and one of her legacies for me was the short prayer she found in a church in Scotland which she brought back and taught us to sing to the tune of Edelweiss.

“We all had it in the front of our hymn books and I used it regularly in my Tuesday’s assemblies which were otherwise dominated by sporting, musical and other presentations, we called it Mrs Cave’s Grace.”

As well as students, Mrs Cave left a lasting impression on fellow teachers who worked alongside her.

Former head of English Elizabeth Gibson, who joined the school in 1973, said: “Mrs. Patricia Cave was a commanding presence, even then, a guiding light, a stalwart who gave the school its heart and its backbone.

“You dared not sit in one of the hallowed seats, but you were grateful for guidance, whilst being apprehensive about acting to the detriment of Westholme’s ethos and principles.

She added: “Such characters have made Westholme what it is today, Mrs. Cave is up there with the best of them.”