TRIBUTES were today paid to a "visionary" Fylde coast nun.
Sister Maureen Grimley, former head and later governor of St Mary's College, Blackpool, was seen as the architect of massive reforms in Catholic education locally.
Sister Maureen, 75, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, near to the Newton Drive convent which had been her home, and within sight of the school she led to a brave new future – St Mary's College.
In 1982, she headed the largest Catholic secondary school in the country, 1,800 students, 120 teachers and became a role model for other women.
After taking early retirement in 1984, she worked in Rome, London, and Milton Keynes and also became an artist before returning to share the ministry in her parish, Christ the King, which covers Grange Park, Layton and Normoss.
Father Bob Horn, of Christ the King, said: "Her loss will hurt us all.
"She was spiritual yet an innovator, open to good change and other people's opinions.
"Sister Maureen was a gem. She had innate authority but for us was always humble, a lovely caring woman, who connected with people."
Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Patrick O'Donoghue, paid tribute to Sister Maureen's "dedication to education".
Sister Maureen grew up in North Shore, attended Sacred Heart school and Layton Hill Convent. After graduating in zoology at Oxford University she returned to teach biology at the convent, now St Mary's College.
St Mary's head Stephen Tierney said he valued her contribution as a governor and said Sister Maureen came from a time when young Catholic girls found it hard to "break free from the traditional career path".
Sister Maureen blazed that trail, building on their talents, skills and confidence, he added.
She is survived by a sister and a brother. A requiem mass will be held at Christ the King Church, Grange Park, on Tuesday, at 11.30am.