TRIBUTES have been paid to a "formidable pioneer and dedicated mentor" who dedicated her life to the field of deaf education.

Dr Morag Clark MBE, who died on April 9 aged 90, retired to Hereford in the late 1980s.

After training as a teacher in her native Scotland, Dr Clark went on to train as a Teacher of the Deaf at Manchester University.

She went on to become deputy principal and later, principal of Birkdale School for Hearing Impaired Children, where she worked until her retirement in 1986.

But Dr Clark, described by her former colleagues as having "seemingly boundless energy," brought a whole new meaning to the concept of being retired.

Driven by a wish to give deaf children the best life chances possible, she was a passionate advocate of what would become known as Natural Auralism, who believed strongly that, with appropriate aids, even the most profoundly deaf could develop spoken language in a natural way.

To that end, she went to live in Eskisehir, Turkey for two years, where she continued work with a project for deaf children at ICEM in Anadolu University.

She was also asked to lecture at the Universities of Istanbul and Ankara, and it was not long before word of the success of her work began to spread and Dr Clark was being asked to carry out similar work in many other countries.

For more than 20 years she travelled almost constantly in her voluntary role as a consultant, working in at least 14 different countries.

So formidable was her itinerary that there was one year in which she only spent a total of six weeks in her Hereford flat!

Despite this, she still made time to carry out acts of kindness such as taking a group of homesick African students to her flat for a good meal and to watch football on her television.

Dr Clark was justifiably honoured for her work in several ways.

Awarded an MBE for international services to the hearing impaired in 1989, she was also the recipient of three awards from the Alexander Graham Bell Association and awarded an Honourary Doctorate by Anadolu University.

For Dr Clark, however, the greatest reward was always the pleasure of chatting with young deaf people whose families she had helped and who were leading fulfilling lives making their way independently in the world.

"Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing and working with Morag are still awed by all that she achieved, but above all, we will remember what a wonderful friend and colleague she was," said former colleague, Liz Rothwell.

"The field of education of the deaf will be immeasurably poorer without Morag Clark, as were the lives of those of us who were privileged to have her friendship."