A “truly remarkable” artist who ran a preparatory school and wrote children’s books has lost her battle with cancer.

Sheila O’Neill, who lived in Garston, died on September 25 – a month before her 78th birthday – after “fighting a long battle”.

She had four daughters called Ailise, Liadain, Roisin and Catrine and seven grandchildren but was also a “big part” of the community in Garston.

As well as writing and illustrating children’s books about Jacob the Goose and Flip the Seal, Ms O’Neill also ran High Elms Manor Preparatory School, in High Elms Lane, Watford, which uses the Montessori method of teaching based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood.

Her daughter Liadain has paid tribute to her mother – who was born in Washington DC and lived in Canada and Ireland and studying in Amsterdam before moving to Garston 20 years ago – for “fulfilling her dreams”.

She said: “My mother was an incredible portrait artist, an author and illustrator of children’s books and someone who first and foremost dedicated her life to the teaching of young children, giving them the opportunity to learn through the Montessori Method which she was so passionate about.

“She was an inspiration to anyone who knew her, she never gave up on her dreams, she was so admired a truly remarkable woman.”

Ms O’Neill’s funeral will be held at Saint Saviour’s Church, in The Crescent, Abbots Langley, on Friday, October 13 at 1.30pm, followed by a wake at West Herts Crematorium, in High Elms Lane, Watford, at 3.20pm.

RVSP to ailise@highelmsmanor.com