ONE of Sheffield’s oldest Women of Steel – who kept the city’s steelworks alive during wartime – has died, aged 102.
Vera Shaw worked in Stanley Works, Woodside Lane, Neepsend, during World War Two, inspecting bullet casings.
She died in Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital on Monday, after falling ill at Christmas.
Until then, she had lived in her own home on Granby Road, Norton, leading a fairly independent life for her age.
Son Derek, 77, said she still enjoyed seeing friends.
Mr Shaw said: “Everybody has said that they will miss her because she was the life and soul of the party.
“She was 102, so it’s just one of those things.
“She was in her own home until Boxing Day and more or less looked after herself. She was with it right until the end.
“I think she may have been the oldest woman left who helped keep the home fires burning during the war.”
Vera, who featured in The Star’s Woman of Steel campaign for official recognition for their work, originally made shirts.
Her family – Vera, her husband Fred and a young Derek – had only recently moved to Sheffield when war broke out and Fred was sent away with the Royal Navy.
And Vera’s wartime job meant that she had to send Derek, then aged just four, to live with her mother in Macclesfield, Cheshire, for his safety.
During an interview as part of the Women of Steel campaign, Vera said everyone had been kind and welcoming when she arrived at Stanley Works and she had gone on to build strong friendships with her colleagues.
She said: “We used to have to look in the bullets and make sure the rings were perfect.
“It was all women. I had a big family and all my sisters worked hard like that.”
The campaign succeeded with a permanent plaque at Balm Green, off Barker’s Pool, Sheffield city centre, unveiled last year.
A fundraising drive to pay for a statue honouring the women is also planned.
Derek, of St Aidan’s Road, Arbourthorne, said: “Mum thought the Women of Steel campaign was the right thing to do to recognise the women who stepped up.
“I think everybody does and I certainly do, because I know how hard they worked.
“I remember women still doing a lot of the jobs when I was a steelworker before becoming a HGV driver.
“When I was going through all her things I found the articles about her neatly put away.”