Tributes have been paid to a dedicated teacher for deaf children who has died after a three-year battle with cancer.

Christine Roche, 61, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2010, but continued in her role as head of Thorn Park School in Heaton, Bradford, for as long as she could.

She was able to oversee the transfer of her students to a new centre based at Hanson School, Bradford, before ill-health forced her to retire.

Her daughter Hannah, 27, had been her full-time carer at their home in Spring Avenue, Long Lee, Keighley, since finishing her masters degree two years ago.

Earlier this year the pair were shortlisted for Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards.

Mrs Roche taught at Thorn Park School for 30 years. She was among the driving forces behind the move to incorporate pupils with hearing difficulties into centres based at mainstream primary and secondary schools across the district.

For many years she also brought two deaf boys into the family home every weekend for respite care.

Her daughter 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.”

Mrs Roche's son Tim added: “The last 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, her colleague at Thorn Park for three decades, praised Mrs Roche's “caring and sensible” attitude.

He also paid tribute to her major achievements, including 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.

And to her work – during the early stages of her illness – in spearheading the pupils’ move from Thorn Park, which closed in 2010, to the mainstream Hanson School.

Mrs Roche died at Manorlands Hospice, Oxenhope. Her funeral takes place at Keighley Shared Church on Tuesday at 10.30am. Her family has requested that everyone who attends wears something purple.