We regret to announce the death of one of our “Aycliffe Angels” Vera Stobbs (nee Catterson).
Vera was born on 4th April 1924 in Leasingthorne and as a child lived there with her parents and older brother. Aged only 8 years, she saved her best friend Betty Palmer’s life after Betty had fallen into a well and was saved from drowning by Vera.
Vera received a bible, a certificate of bravery and a letter of praise from the local MP, Mr Charlton Curry. Betty’s two sons were still regular visitors to Vera.
She contracted rheumatic fever aged 12 and lost months of schooling.
Her mother died when Vera was only 17 years old which restricted her teenage years as she then took on the role of looking after her father and elder brother.
Aged 18 years, she began work as an inspector of Royal Navy Ordnance at ROF59, where she worked until the end of the war.
Vera married Joe Stobbs in 1949 and lived in Coundon, where they went on to raise three daughters. The family moved to Nottinghamshire in the early 1960’s, where Joe worked as a miner, but moved back to Newton Aycliffe in 1968.
Vera was always proud of her family, which at the time of her death consisted of three married daughters, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Vera was also very proud to be called an Aycliffe Angel, and was invited to the opening of the ROF59 leisure facility in August 2015, which attracted TV news and press.
In July 2017 Vera gave a talk at a charity event at Simpasture Court for the blind and partially sighted on her experiences at ROF59 Ammunitions Factory. In January 2018 Vera met with an ex-BBC presenter/journalist and shared her ROF59 experiences for a book he was writing on Royal Ordnance Factories in the UK.
She thoroughly enjoyed speaking at all these events and assisted in any way she could.
Vera will be missed by all her family and friends. She was a remarkable lady, a lively character, known as the ‘V’-machine to her grandchildren due to her long and active life.
She always said that when times were tough, people just got on with the job and during the hard times of the war this was when families, friends and neighbours helped each other out.
Vera died peacefully in her sleep on 14th April 2018, aged 94 years, surrounded by her loving family.
The funeral is on Friday 4th May 2018 at Coundon Crematorium at 12:30pm.