Her 'no nonsence' approach is said to have commanded respect from even the most unruly pupils, while one of her former charges said it was down to her dedicated efforts that she passed her English higher exam.

Irene Mowatt taught English Literature for 30 years, starting at Sacred Heart High School in Paisley.

Now, in a heart-warming turn of events, three of her former pupils are able to show their gratitude to their dedicated, former English Literature teacher.

Jamie Giles, 37, Diane Ferry, 46, and Natasha Maunder, 30, are all carers at Balquhidder House, near Alexandria, where Mrs Mowatt is a resident.

They shared fond memories of their former teacher, who had inspired one of them to pursue a career in the care sector.

A University of Glasgow graduate, Mrs Mowatt devoted more than 30 years of her life to teaching English, finishing her career at Vale of Leven Academy. 

“Irene was an amazing teacher and it’s because of her that I passed my higher English exam – and for that, I’ll always be grateful,"said Ms Giles, who has worked in the care sector since she was 23.

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"She is a wonderful lady and we have such a laugh together. Sometimes we reminisce about my school days which never fails to bring a smile to both our faces. 

The Herald:

Diane, who is in her sixth year as a care assistant at Balquidder House said: “I remember her as a no-nonsense teacher – even the toughest students tended to behave in Mrs Mowatt’s classes. 

"I feel a great deal of privilege in helping Irene."

The retired teacher moved into Balquhidder in April 2018 having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years previously.

Her husband, Ian, a well-respected former college lecturer of 30 years, passed away in February 2020 after battling Parkinson’s disease.

He was also a resident of Balquhidder for the last 3 months of his life which allowed the couple to spend time together.

The couple's children, Lauren and Stephen, followed their parents into the teaching profession, Stephen as a primary school teacher in local school Lennox Primary and Lauren in local high school Dumbarton Academy. 

The family said they were "extremely grateful" to all the staff at Balquhidder for caring for their mother with "such empathy".

Natasha, who has been working in the social care sector since she was a teenager, said it "meant a lot" to be caring for Irene who was her first and second year teacher at Vale of Leven Academy.

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"I lacked a lot of confidence at school, so Irene worked really hard to build that up by throwing me into situations I wouldn’t usually put myself in, such as reading in front of the class. Looking back, it really went a long way to help me come out of my shell.”

“Looking after Irene gives me immense pride and I feel like I’m able to give back to someone who had such an influential role in my education, which, of course, played a major role in my decision to become a carer. All I can say is thank you, Irene – for everything."

The Herald:

Rishi Sodha, Handsale’s Care Director, said: “To hear Irene’s story was a really inspiring experience. 

"She’s done so much for her local community, so it’s only fitting that her contributions are still being praised even after transitioning into care.

"I know it brings a real sense of joy and genuine reward for Jamie, Diane and Natasha to reunite with one of their favourite teachers – and they’re relishing the chance to nurture and care for someone who played such a key part in their formative years.

"It’s good to remind people that friendships can blossom and withstand the test of time at any age, anytime, anywhere."