Former deputy head of St Laurence School, Jackie Bolton, died on January 25 at her home in Palm Desert, California, aged 71.

Mrs Bolton was born in Hertfordshire and shortly after gaining her teaching qualification moved to the South West.

As senior mistress at the former Trinity Secondary Modern School in Bradford on Avon in the late 1970s she was instrumental in the transition to the comprehensive schooling system.

When St Laurence School was founded in October 1980, Mrs Bolton was known to many as an English teacher but she was also then headteacher Bill Wheeler’s aide, taking on the role of deputy head for a number of years.

Throughout this time she established a provision for pastoral support that many students will remember with both appreciation and affection. She was also acting headteacher in 1986 for a short time, after Mr Wheeler left the school.

Mrs Bolton, who lived in Bath, will be remembered for the quiet, diligent and compassionate care she provided for pupils, their families and for colleagues. She also taught at schools in Bristol.

In a tribute to Mrs Bolton, Mr Wheeler said: “Jackie was an inspiring teacher and utterly committed to the wider care of our pupils. Her dedication and hard work was fundamental to the successful establishment and development of St Laurence. I will remember her with great fondness and gratitude. I am sure other colleagues and former parents and pupils will feel likewise on hearing the sad news and will wish to sympathise with her husband Terry in his great loss.”

Fergus Stewart, current headteacher at St Laurence said: “The current success of St Laurence owes much to those who worked so hard to establish the school, and Jackie was clearly a key player in that process. Her legacy lives on.”

After being diagnosed with cancer Mrs Bolton faced the disease with dignity and purpose. She and her husband Terry would often spend the winter months at her second home in Palm Desert.

Her funeral will be held on February 22 at 8.30pm at The Palm Desert Centre for Spiritual Living in California.

For friends, colleagues and former students in this country, who may wish to participate, the service will be streamed via http://cslpalm