Tributes have been paid to one of the first female nuclear engineers to work at Barrow’s shipyard.

Nuclear physicist Gillian Thompson, who passed away aged 79 years on Friday, was described as a “phenomenal person”,

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.

She studied nuclear physics at the University of Liverpool – one of only four females studying on her degree course at the time.

Speaking 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.

Outside work, Miss Thompson was a keen runner. A member of Walney Wind Cheetahs running club, she completed her 250th Barrow Parkrun in July.

Chair of the club, Ian Jones, who knew her on both the work and leisure fronts, 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 ground-breaking 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.”

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

“Inspirational runner and inspirational in her career too.”