TRIBUTES have been paid to an inspirational teacher who helped turn around the lives of some of the most vulnerable youngsters in Bolton.

Garry Maguire died suddenly on Saturday at just 48 years old after it is believed he suffered a heart attack.

Mr Maguire taught at Lever Park School for more than 20 years.

Fellow members of staff and pupils at the Horwich school said they were ‘heartbroken’.

Matthew Taylor, academy lead at Lever Park, described Mr Maguire as a ‘treasured staff member’ who over the years had helped hundreds of young pupils to carve out a bright future.

Mr Taylor said: “Mr Maguire served at Lever Park for over 20 years. His loss will not only be felt around the corridors of school but far and wide throughout the streets of Bolton.

“Mr Maguire worked with hundreds of children throughout his career, his gentle, caring and understanding nature made him the children’s champion he was.

“Always trusted and vigilant with his care, Mr Maguire developed and mentored many challenging children into the well-rounded adults they are today. His passing has left a huge void in Lever Park Academy and the Bolton Impact Trust.”

Mr Maguire was born in Ireland and moved to Bolton, settling in Farnworth at the age of three.

He attended Castle Hill School and originally worked in the fire service before finding his vocation in education.

Pupils at Lever Park School described Mr Maguire as the ‘best teacher ever’ — and many who have left used to visit him at school.

Jordon Longworth, who is in Year 11 said: “He was the best teacher ever, he always made us laugh.”

Lewis Sutcliffe, from Year Eight added: “He always made us happy and watched out for us, we loved his crazy socks.”

Lewis Hamer, of Year Eight said: “He talked to us like adults and never shouted.”

Shane Slater, in Year Nine, added: “He was always there for us, he was trustworthy.”

The school said that the comments mirror the feelings of all the children who attend Lever Park Academy, both past and present.

Mr Taylor said: “Many past pupils still came to visit him as grown men in their late 20s and 30s, this was the stature of the man.”

Mr Maguire leaves a sister, daughter, son, close companions and friends behind, who he is said to have held very close and dear to him.

Arrangements for the funeral service are being made and the date and time will be announced by the school.