A WOMAN who was a tireless fundraiser, resolute in her political beliefs and a former member of staff at the wartime code breaking centre has died.

Sheilah Maureen Pitman (nee Westropp) was born into a military family; her father was Major-Gen Victor John Eric Westropp CB CBE, while her mother Elenita Augusta died when she was a teenager.

During the Second World War she enlisted in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRENs) and worked at Bletchley Park, where the country’s top brains successfully cracked the German enigma codes, credited as greatly shortening the conflict. For years she and the other staff from the code breaking HQ were forbidden from discussing anything of their part in the highly-secret crypto-war until years later.

She also gained a reputation as someone who was good at keeping confidences; a skill no doubt drilled into her during her service there.

Accompanying her father to post war Germany, in 1948 she met and married Major Tom Pitman MC of the 11th Hussars. The ceremony took place by candlelight in a bombed-out Berlin church.

Upon retirement from military life, her husband secured a job at Masham and they lived temporarily at Park House opposite Thorp Perrow. Shortly afterwards they bought Cliff Lodge in Leyburn, later moving to a farmhouse in Harmby.

Passionate about politics, for many years Mrs Pitman was chairman of the Richmond (Yorks) branch of Conservative Party. She was instrumental in choosing a youthful William Hague to stand as parliamentary candidate in 1989 when sitting MP Leon Brittan stood down to take up the post as vice president of the European Commission.

She and Lord Hague remained close friends throughout his political career. She was also on good terms with Sir Timothy Kitson, Rishi Sunak and former constituency agent now MP, Matthew Vickers.

An avid fundraiser for the NSPCC and Herriot Hospice Homecare, she also served on the Friarage scanner appeal committee. For many years she tirelessly serviced the Coverdale round for Meals on Wheels and helped organise an annual Sunday lunch for St Michael’s Church Spennithorne.

Appointed MBE in 1991 for political service, whilst in her 80s, Mrs Pitman appeared in D&S Times criticising a proposed a Parliamentary boundary change which unsurprisingly was never adopted.

Prior to moving to Masham in 2015 to be nearer to her family, as a thank you, a celebration was held in her honour which she reluctantly attended.

A friend since 1959, Caroline Thornton-Berry described her as a very straightforward sort of person. She said: “You could say Sheilah was an iron fist in velvet glove; very caring, hugely generous and very hospitable.”

Sheilah Pitman MBE died peacefully at home on January 26 aged 93 – a much- loved mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Her funeral took place last Monday at St Mary’s Masham. It is anticipated a memorial service will take place when restrictions are relaxed. Donations in lieu of flowers to the NSPCC and Herriot Hospice Homecare.