From wartime bombs to royal missives: Sheffield's Mona Wooldridge celebrates 100th birthday

Mona Wooldridge celebrates her 100th birthday with Sheffield Lord Mayor Anne Murphy
Mona Wooldridge celebrates her 100th birthday with Sheffield Lord Mayor Anne Murphy
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A Sheffielder who pinned special messages to bombs for delivery to the enemy during World War II received a peacetime missive from the Queen for her 100th birthday.

Mona Wooldridge celebrated her big day at Deerlands nursing home with her family, residents and staff.

Sheffield Lord Mayor Anne Murphy visited the party on July 28, the day before Mona's birthday.

Dementia has blunted her sharp wit these days, but Mona can still tell a story, according to daughter in law Frances Wooldridge.

"If you hit on certain points from the past, she will re-connect with you," Frances said.

Born in Sheffield, Mona is the sole survivor of John and Florence Matthews' four children.

Brothers Cyril and Cliff and sister Florence have passed away.

The family moved to Askern, Doncaster, for John's work in the mines.

They moved back to Sheffield when Mona was a teenager. She loved to visit the local dances of a Saturday night.

Mona married Daniel Wooldridge on Christmas Day, 1937.

"They had to get special permission," Frances said.

The couple's only child, Danny, came along in 1944.

By then, Mona was working at Arthur Lees Steel Company at Ecclesfield.

Even now, she often speaks of her hard work during those years, making munitions for the war effort.

"They did awfully long shifts making war munitions," Frances said.

"She said they pinned messages on the bombs.

"I wouldn't like to quote them.

"Some of them were quite rude."

The toughness of the generation served her well in retirement years. Mona was left a widow when Daniel died in 2004.

The family feared she would pass on soon after her husband.

"She must have a resilience," Frances said.

Reading and gardening became favourite pursuits, and Mona loved oil painting.

"She sold quite a few," Frances said.

One of her works still hangs in her room at the nursing home - a painting of a pub in Derbyshire.

She received the Women of Steel medal last year, for her work in the munitions factory.

This year, she got royal congratulations for her 100th birthday.

Mona thought she recognised the photograph on the front.

"She looked at it, and said 'oh, that's me'," Frances said.