A GENTLE and compassionate former headteacher of The Marist Convent Senior School has passed away, after serving at the school for 72 years.

Sister Mary Gaffney (Sister Placidus) passed away on Monday, April 15 and specialised in teaching history and geography to students at the school in Sunninghill.

The school has paid a tribute to the former headteacher.

Karl McCloskey, principal at The Marist, said: "Sister Mary Gaffney was a softly spoken, gentle woman of substance.

"Her great wisdom was distilled through reflection. She was highly principled and her great hearted goodness shone through her exerting a positive influence on everyone she met and worked with."

Her first appointment was to the founding community who had first opened The Marist School in Sunninghill in 1947.

This was a significant development for the village and the surrounding areas in the post war era.

Having completed her teacher training, her high skill levels in education described her as a 'treasure on the staff', holding various responsibilities in the Marist Community in Paington, Devon before teaching in St Tarcisius Roman Catholic Primary School in Camberley.

The dedicated headteacher also worked round the clock to support her students, from day to night by teaching lessons in the school day and carrying out responsibilities for the boarding pupils into the evening.

Sister Mary Magdalen, who served as a headteacher at The Marist, said: "Sister Placidus quite literally was everything to the girls.

"She was a teacher, monitor, counsellor, mother and mentor."

Karl added: "In the vast sea of condolences, which have come into the school by post, email and social media; it is very apparent that staff, past parents and pupils alike treasure countless fond memories of Sr. Mary's warm and compassionate nature as well as the highest standards which she encouraged and supported people to achieve. May her gentle soul rest in peace."