A PIONEERING head teacher, Rita Proudler, has been presented with the Pope's medal, the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, by Bishop John Crowley, of Middlesbrough, for her exceptional dedication to Catholic education, particularly in the ten years since she retired.

Speaking at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Saltburn, the bishop said she had became a diocesan schools' inspector and education consultant after retiring from St Paulinus' Primary School, Guisborough, of which she was the first head.

The mother-of-six is remembered for recruiting pupils for the new school when it was opened in the early Eighties by knocking on the doors of parishioners - with success.

Nearly 200 people were present at the special mass. They included 15 priests, former colleagues, education authority representatives, parishioners, friends and family - her son Mark flew from Australia to be there.

Bishop Crowley added a human touch to the presentation by asking Mrs Proudler's husband, Colin, to pin the medal to her dress.

Bidding prayers were read by former pupils and included references to deceased governors and staff who helped the school to develop.

They were Edward Hood, deputy chairman of governors, Jim McAvoy, governor, and Alan Rose, deputy head teacher.

Prayers were also said for the late Barbara Boyes, of Saltburn, who was a recipient of the papal award for her work with the annual Lourdes pilgrimage, which she helped to start.

Young people, teachers, school governors, education officers and advisors were also mentioned in the bidding prayers.

Pupils of St Paulinus' School sang during the mass. The co-concelebrants with Bishop Crowley were Canon Bill Madden, of Saltburn, and Fr David Hynes, a former parish priest at Guisborough.

Members of Mr and Mrs Proudler's family present were daughters Alex, Anne and Jo in addition to Mark. Geraldine and Margaret were unable to be there.

* See Spectator's Notes,

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