The heads of two primary schools have paid tribute to a former teacher from Barrhead who has died at the age of 84.

Catherine Owens, known to her friends as Rena, passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday, January 23.

She began her teaching career at St Thomas’ Primary, in Neilston, in the 1970s before moving on to St Mark’s Primary, in Barrhead.

Ian Gillies, the headteacher of St Thomas' told the Barrhead News: "We were very sorry to hear of Rena’s death.

"Rena was clearly a dedicated professional and our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this sad time."

Anthony Hutcheson, the headteacher of St Mark's, meanwhile, described Rena as "a much loved and respected member of the teaching staff for many years".

"As we approach our 60th anniversary year in the school, we will be marking the contribution of all the staff who have given so much to the community of Barrhead in that period, and we will ensure that Rena’s legacy is acknowledged and celebrated,” he added.

Latterly, Rena worked at St Bernard’s Primary, in Nitshill, where she stayed until her retirement.

But her desire to help others did not stop at the school gates, as her charity work in the community led to her being nominated for the East Renfrewshire Woman of the Year Award in 2009.

Her son John said: "She was an amazing and selfless lady.

“She spent a lot of time visiting older folk and working for Mary’s Meals in Main Street, Barrhead.

“She was also really involved with the church. If you want to become a Catholic as a grown-up, you have to go through religious education and my mum ran that.”

Rena was also devoted to her family.

The second eldest of seven children born to Jenny and John Hughes, she helped to raise her siblings after the death of her father and left school early so her mother could work.

Rena met her sweetheart Phil after they became pen pals and the pair later married at St John’s Church, in Barrhead, when they were 21.

“My dad did national service in Cyprus and Egypt and never had anyone to write to,” John explained. “He had a pal from Barrhead and he asked his girlfriend if she knew anyone who could write to my dad.”

Rena and Phil, who sadly passed away 12 years ago, were also loving parents to Janice and Andrew.

She will be deeply missed by her five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, her sisters and her wider family, including John’s cousins.

A memorial service was held at St John’s Church on Monday, February 1.