Sheffield seamstress who survived the blitz, TB and cancer celebrates 100th birthday

Thora Bond (Marie Caley)
Thora Bond (Marie Caley)
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An indestructible Sheffield seamstress who survived the blitz, tuberculosis and cancer is today celebrating her 100th birthday.

Thora Bond, of Darnall, grew up on the old Flockton, Tompkin and Co steel works in Attercliffe - now home to G&J Hall Ltd - where her father was the caretaker.

Thora and Tommy Bond on their wedding day (Marie Caley)

Thora and Tommy Bond on their wedding day (Marie Caley)

She contracted pneumonia while in her teens and then tuberculosis, which left her needing a major hysterectomy, and meant she was unable to have children.

She and her late husband Tommy, who was a bus driver, met through the Salvation Army in Darnall, where he played in the band.

Their wedding plans were thrown into disarray when a bomb wrecked Attercliffe Church, weeks before they were due to tie the knot there, during the Sheffield blitz in December 1940.

They married there anyway, using the two remaining side walls and tower - which were all that remained of the building - as the backdrop for photos of their big day.

Thora Bond (centre) with her father George, mum Mabel and siblings Esme and Alan (Marie Caley)

Thora Bond (centre) with her father George, mum Mabel and siblings Esme and Alan (Marie Caley)

It could have been much worse as the church stood beside the steel works where she lived, and she was lucky to survive the heavy bombing.

As a young woman she worked as a seamstress at the department store John Banners in Attercliffe, which was then a bustling suburb with a thriving shopping centre.

She was still in her 20s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer - at a time when survival rates were much lower than today - but she pulled through following a mastectomy.

She went on to work at Neals, a gown store on The Moor, in Sheffield city centre, where she specialised in altering wedding dresses, until her retirement.

Having survived so many health scares before her 30th birthday, she is in remarkably fine fettle as she celebrates hitting her century.

She still sews, says she 'loves' doing housework and is a fan of jigsaw puzzles and an avid viewer of nature documentaries.

Her family say she often jokes 'I don't know what I shall die of, you will have to put me down'.

Asked the secret to her longevity, she says 'I have no idea really', though staying active, not smoking and only drinking the occasional glass of sherry on special occasions have surely contributed to her good health.

She says she has always worked hard and thought nothing of walking from Attercliffe to and from the city centre each day when she worked there.

Thora, whose maiden name is Pratt and who attended Huntsman's Gardens School as a girl, said she was looking forward to receiving her congratulatory message from the Queen on the big day.

She plans to celebrate in low-key fashion, joining family friend Tim for a meal, at which she will probably treat herself to a well-deserved glass of sherry.