HUNDREDS of people turned up to pay their final respects at the funeral of a much-loved Ryedale night-school tutor and skilled dressmaker.

During her lifetime, the needlework skills of Florence Kirby, from Wombleton near Kirkbymoorside, were so respected that she was known to have created the wedding dresses of three generations of brides from some North Yorkshire families.

Mrs Kirby died on January 26 at the age of 75 after suffering a stroke two months earlier.

Her daughter Angela, 51, said sewing and needlecraft were her mother’s passions and she also spent 50 years of her life passing on her expertise to others at various night classes throughout the region.

Angela said: “After leaving the family farm at Aumery Park in Sleightholmedale, she went to work at Stockton Hall, where at the time they produced swimwear and children’s clothing for Marks & Spencer. That’s where she learned her craft.

“She married my dad, Peter, in 1959, then she set up a dressmaking business from home and started making wedding dresses.

“She also got qualified at Scarborough College to be a night-school teacher.”

Not content with just dressmaking, Mrs Kirby went on to master the craft of soft furnishing and upholstering.

“My dad used to call her sewing machine her ‘little tin god’ because he said she used to worship it,” said Angela. “It was her life and she loved it.

“I have seen her button and cover a Chesterfield sofa from scratch.

“She was never one to watch television.

“She was always shortening something or making something for somebody. With her wedding dresses she has done grandmother, mother and daughter in some families.

“She was still working and sewing right up to when she had her stroke.”

Mrs Kirby’s funeral took place at St Gregory’s Minster in Kirkdale on February 4 and was attended by many of those who respected her work and dedication.

Her daughter said: “I was shocked by how many people turned up.

“She just touched so many lives and came into contact with so many people.”