A TOWN is mourning after losing a ‘phenomenal person’ who led the way as a forerunner for women in engineering.

Barrow ‘legend’ and former nuclear physicist Gillian Thompson, 79, of Piel View Grove, died in the early hours on Friday.

Keen runner Miss Thompson, who completed her 250th Barrow Parkrun in July, was one of the first female nuclear engineers to work at Barrow shipyard.

Chair of Walney Wind Cheetahs running club Ian Jones said: “Gill was a phenomenal person, who was at the forefront of women starting careers as nuclear physicists.

“She was immensely respected by everyone.

“I first met her when she was doing groundbreaking work in the shipyard.

“At the time, I remember her being a mysterious person, who spent a lot of time locked in her office because her work I assume had to remain secret.

“She was an incredible lady in what was a male-orientated world.

“For the past 16 years she has been a wonderful neighbour in Piel View Grove and more recently a fell runner with Walney Wind Cheetahs, and at Barrow Parkrun where she recently completed her 250th milestone run.

“A great friend and neighbour who will be sadly missed.”

Barrow Parkrun volunteer Darren McSweeney said: “She was a legend, but very humble.

“Inspirational runner and inspirational in her career too.”

Miss Thompson joined the old Vickers shipbuilding company in 1962 as a nuclear physicist and retired 37 years later as the head of radiation physics and shielding.

Miss Thompson studied nuclear physics at the University of Liverpool, where during her time on Merseyside she met The Beatles.

There were only four females studying on her degree course at the time.

Speaking to The Mail in 2016, Miss Thompson said after graduating she wanted a career close to home and she applied for a position in the shipyard’s newly-formed radiation physics department.