TRIBUTES have been paid to a farmer who witnessed a wartime bomber blow up near her home and spent a lifetime dedicated to her farm and her family.

Elizabeth Walker, nee Pearson, was born at her family farm, Vince Moor East in Dalton on Tees, in 1926.

Throughout her teenage years, the nearby Croft Aerodrome and Dalton airfield was used as a base for the Canadian RAF during the Second World War.

The family welcomed the squadron into their farmhouse for tea and company, with Elizabeth's mother, Mary, treating the young airmen like sons as many were just 18 or 19-years-old serving in a war thousands of miles from home.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Elizabeth was one of 12 children, but tragedy struck in the August of 1944 when her 13-year-old brother Albert died of burns after an accident on the airfield.

The following year, the farm was rocked - quite literally - when a Lancaster Bomber with a full load exploded on the aerodrome creating a huge fire.

The enormous blast blew the roof off the farmhouse but luckily nobody was injured.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

In 1951 Elizabeth met neighbouring farmer Lawrence Walker.

They married in 1953 and spent a short time in Vince Moor East before moving across the airfield to Portobello Farm in 1955.

The farmhouse had no running water or electricity but the couple threw themselves into the business and started a family - raising four children at Portobello.

Throughout her life Elizabeth helped feed the farm workers as well as mucking in herself when needed with the cattle, sheep and poultry.

She never had a passport nor a driving licence though the couple would enjoy trips to Wales, Scarborough and caravanning in the Lake District.

Their eldest son, David, said that his mother was truly of the 'make do and mend' generation and would knit clothes, darn socks and bake her own bread and cakes.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

David said: "She was a really family-orientated person, it was always an open house.

"Her mother's house was the same, it was the centre of everything and with such a big family there was always people coming in and out all the time.

"Everyone was always welcome in for a cup of tea; hers was a life-time of welcoming and hospitality."

Elizabeth died aged 92 on June 14 after her health deteriorated following a fall on Easter Sunday.

David said that right up until that incident she was living independently following Lawrence's death some six years ago.

He said that a carer who become her friend during an earlier bout of illness described Elizabeth as : "A truly amazing lady and a true inspiration".

He added that one of her recent happiest days was her 90th birthday when the family threw a surprise party at the farm which around 70 people attended.

David said: "She never stopped smiling all day. Her whole life was her family and her farm."

Elizabeth, who would have turned 93 on July 9, leaves behind her four children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Her son John continues to run the farm.