When Sue Thompson’s treasured family heirloom – a pocket knife that belonged to her late father – broke she feared it would never be repaired.
The knife dated back to 1945 and even the manufacturer, EKA Kniver in Sweden, said it was too old for a replacement blade to be found after it snapped above the handle.
Heartbroken mum Sue, aged 66 thought the knife was broken for good ... until kind-hearted Sheffield cutler and knifemaker Stuart Mitchell came to the rescue.
Her partner Byron Jaines-White secretly approached Stuart to see if he could help, sending the knife to him at the city’s Portland Works in Highfield by post.
Byron said: “Sue was very upset when the blade snapped, she can remember her father using it to whittle dolls and animals for her in the garden.
“It was a tangible personal link to her father and has tremendous sentimental value.
“The Swedish manufacturer just said the knife was made in 1945 and they no longer had the parts – then somebody mentioned a knifeman in Sheffield.
“When I approached him he said he could have made a blade for it, but as it happened he had one that was suitable. I told him I would pay whatever it cost but he said it didn’t take him long and didn’t want any money.
“His craftsmanship is unbelievable and the fact he was willing to do it just speaks volumes about him and the craft makers that are all around Sheffield – what a contrast with the makers.”
When the blade was repaired Byron took Sue from where they live in Wootton, Lincolnshire, to Sheffield, saying it was a day trip to drop off some fish for a friend.
She was then surprised with the repaired knife at Portland Works, home to more than 30 businesses making everything from tools to jewellery after campaigners united to buy and restore it.
Byron added: “I told Sue I was going to drop something off in Sheffield, and I had packed Stuart up lots of fresh prawns, fish and haddock.
“After I handed him the fish I asked him ‘do you have anything for me?’ and he handed the knife over to Sue.
“She was overwhelmed really and just so thrilled that it had been fixed. She did well to hold back a tear.”
The couple have now dubbed Stuart ‘the man of steel with a heart of gold’.
Stuart, who started working at the family business at the age of ten, was more modest. The craftsman, of Wadsley, said: “It took a little bit of fiddling to make the blade which I fitted but it took me less than an hour.
“It is just nice to see these things saved and kept in the family – it can be passed on to Sue’s children now.
“Too much of this kind of stuff gets lost.
“They did bring me two boxes of fish as a thank you, you can’t move for it in the freezer!”