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Tributes to campaigning former head teacher from Long Lee
Keighley siblings have paid tribute to their mother’s strength and unshakeable cheerfulness while fighting incurable cancer for three years.
Former head teacher Christine Roche was diagnosed with the disease in her bones in 2010, but continued in her role as school head for as long as possible.
She oversaw the transfer of her beloved students, who are deaf, to a new school before ill-health forced her to retire.
And despite immense pain, she remained strong for daughter Hannah and son Tim until her death last Thursday at the Manorlands hospice in Oxenhope.
Hannah, 27, had been Christine’s full-time carer at their home in Spring Avenue, Long Lee, since finishing her masters degree two years ago.
As reported in the Keighley News, the pair were shortlisted for Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards earlier this year.
Hannah and Tim this week spoke of their mother’s dedication to the children of Thorn Park School for the Deaf in Heaton, where she taught for 30 years.
Christine also brought two deaf boys into the family home every weekend for respite care for many years.
Hannah said: “Our mother was an exceptional woman – amazingly strong, never complaining, a really determined caring person, who always put other people first.
“That’s how she got through the illness – she saw the bright side of everything. She was a joy to care for.”
Tim added: “The past three years, however horrible it’s been with our mother being ill, have been wonderful. It was lovely to have those three years with her.”
Mike Pulford, Christine’s colleague at Thorn Park for three decades, praised her “caring and sensible” attitude.
He said Christine’s major achievements included successfully fighting for her pupils to learn sign language in the late 1970s at a time when this was not common practice for deaf children.
He also paid tribute to Christine’s work – during the early stages of her illness – spearheading pupils’ move from Thorn Park, which closed in 2010, to the mainstream Hanson School in Bradford.
Mr Pulford added: “She always came over as very kind and caring. Deaf children always came first for her.”
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