AN INSPIRATIONAL South Elmsall teacher who was determined to keep teaching and fundraising for charity after being diagnosed with a brain tumour has died.
Claire Shirtliff, a teacher at Carlton J&I School, discovered she had the tumour in April 2008.
She took the devastating diagnosis in her stride, continued teaching and even ran a series of charity races after having surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for the tumour to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support.
But the aggressive treatment was not successful and she was given six months to live just six months after her diagnosis.
However, she was determined to keep teaching, and only took sick leave in September last year. She had been making preparations to return this September, but took a turn for the worse,
She died on October 21, aged just 34.
Her husband of four years, Michael Shirtliff, of Sycamore Copse, Wakefield, said: “For someone to defy the odds like that just shows how strong she was. She was just amazing.
“Claire loved her job and was so caring, she even went into school during the holidays sorting out displays for the children.”
She taught at the school for 12 years and had a talent for art and maths.
Headteacher Maxine Smart spoke of the tragic loss to the whole of the community.
She said: “She was truly inspirational, even when she was having treatment she battled on and still came into school.
“She was a committed, dedicated and valued member of the school and was just so brave. The whole school, and community, will miss her greatly.”
Her funeral took place last Thursday in Leeds with more than 100 people attending.
Mrs Shirtliff’s family and friends are now following in her footsteps and are determined to keep her memory alive by taking part in charity runs.
Her fellow teacher at Carlton J&I, Kay Williams had known her since 2001, and was a bridesmaid at her wedding.
Mrs William, 36, from Ackworth, said: “We want to carry on the fundraising in her memory. Claire was an amazing person, you couldn’t ask for a better friend.
“Even when she was really poorly she was still asking about everyone else. That’s just how lovely and caring she was.”
Her family and friends will be running the Jane Tomlinson 10k race next year in Leeds and the Race For Life, which she previously took part in.
Her parents are also taking part in the Prince of Wales Hospice Santa Dash which takes place on December 9 in Pontefract.
Mr Shirtliff said: “She asked me to do the race to keep the fundraising going. She just wanted to give something back.”
Money raised will be donated to the Prince of Wales Hospice.