Birthday ‘buffer girl’ celebrates special day

Former buffer girl Irene Gillott who will be 90 years old on Valentines Day
Former buffer girl Irene Gillott who will be 90 years old on Valentines Day
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ONE of Sheffield’s ‘Women of Steel’ won’t be short of a card or two today...when she celebrates her 90th birthday on Valentine’s Day.

Irene Gillatt was a former buffer girl who spent decades polishing Sheffield’s world-renowned cutlery before the knives, forks and spoons were exported around the world.

She was one of thousands of city women who stood at their buffing wheels day in day out - including wartime - as the last link in Sheffield’s steel cutlery making chain.

Irene, who began training as a buffer at the age of 16, is celebrating her Valentine’s Day birthday with family and friends in an open day at her home.

While busy postal workers make Valentine’s Day deliveries in Manor Park, where she lives, they will be calling at Irene’s home with piles of birthday cards.

The pensioner’s stepdaughter Barbara Stacey, from Rotherham, said: “Because her birthday is on Valentine’s Day people seem remember it and she always gets lots of cards.

“Being born on February 14 makes her day a bit more special and she is never short of a card.”

Irene, who grew up in Arbourthorne and has spent more than 60 years at Manor Park, has a 95-year-old brother, Ron.

Her family say Irene’s good sense of humour keeps her young.

The pensioner, who had her son David during her first marriage, became a stepmother to five stepdaughters when she married her second husband Walter Gillatt in 1973.

After leaving school at 14 she started her working life as an errand girl in a buffing shop on Blast Lane and went to Robert Belk on Furnival Street in Sheffield city centre after giving birth to her son.

Barbara added: “She is very proud of her working life and has lots of good memories of the decades she spent as a buffer - she loves to talk about it.

“She also formed lots of good friendships over the years she spent there.”