A PIONEERING woman who worked to raise the standards of early years care and brought the plight of Romanian orphans before the people of Bolton has died at the age of 86.

Elizabeth Tatman received an MBE in 2013 for services to children and families. These included her role as chairman for the National Pre-School Playgroups Association, the creation of Bolton Toy Library and Bolton Early Years Assessment Centre (BEYAC).

Through BEYAC, she was keen to raise standards for the previously unqualified volunteers who worked in early childcare, especially the Pre-School Playgroups Association, and made it happen.

Born in Bury, where her father was a councillor, she learned about public service early. She attended Bury Grammar school and then enrolled on a teacher training course.

When she returned to teach at Bury Grammar School, she met her future husband, fellow teacher Michael. They lived in Bolton, latterly in Astley Bridge, and had three children, Catherine, Sarah and Alexander, and later seven grandchildren.

To fit work around her young family, Elizabeth started her own playgroup at home. This introduced her to a new world and took her to the PPA as regional Training and Development Officer. She taught social and childcare in college and then took a top post as Pre-school Education Advisor for Bolton Education Department.

The importance of play also took her to Romania, post president Nicolae Ceausescu, where terrible pictures of abandoned children were emerging. She persuaded her fellow Rotarians to support an aid trip there and, at the Santa Maria Children’s Hospital, found ways to help these forgotten children play and smile again.

That commitment to Romania and Moldova lasted the rest of her life and earned her many friendships and the respect of all.

At home, she and Michael were stalwarts of Bolton Little Theatre and Elizabeth brought her usual enthusiasm to being everything from chairman to manning the bar.

She was a founder member of Bolton Rotary Club of Daybreak and had several high-profile roles within the Rotary organisation. She helped foster the long-term relationship between Bolton and twin German town, Paderborn, and was also chair of Smithills Hall Trust.

Elizabeth Tatman was involved in many areas of Bolton life, bringing shrewd judgement and organisation, but was always the first to roll up her sleeves to help.

Her funeral service takes place on Tuesday, September 17 at Bolton Parish Church at 1.30pm followed by a private committal at Overdale Crematorium. Donations are requested for Santa Maria in Romania.