A LEADING educationalist, whose father lives in Summerseat and who was made a Dame two years ago, has died.

Dame Judith Kilpatrick collapsed during a meeting on September 5 at Portsmouth City Girls School where she had been head teacher since 1995. Her funeral will take place today (Tues Sept 17).

Her father, widower Mr Jim Foxley, of Crag Lane, Summerseat, was a former treasurer for Bury Health Authority in the 1970s and early 80s.

He will attend a special memorial service at Bury Parish Church on September 20 to celebrate his daughter's life.

Although never a resident of Bury, due to her college and University studies, she regularly visited the area to see her parents. Her mother died three years ago.

Born in St Helens, Dame Judith qualified as a teacher in Southport and when visiting her parents in Summerseat she worshipped at Bury Parish Church.

In June 2000 she was made a Dame in the Queen's Official Birthday Honours for her services to education.

On learning she would become a Dame, she said: "It's like all my Christmases have come together. I am like a Mr Chips with thousands of old girls. One of the nice things is that I have had well over 200 letters, notes and cards from colleagues I have worked with over the 26 years."

The 50-year-old was an ardent supporter of single-sex education and prior to her death she had been appointed to the executive council of the Teacher Training Agency, established to improve standards in education. She was also a governor of Portsmouth University.

Paying tribute to Dame Judith, Councillor Frank Worley, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: "It is with great sadness that such a person should die so suddenly. Our thoughts are with the children and staff at her school.

"She made a great contribution to education in this city and many aspects of her work will be difficult to replace."

Dame Judith will be cremated following a service in Portsmouth today.