Original Ford Dagenham striker Vera Sime dies aged 88

PUBLISHED: 14:00 13 December 2018

Vera Sime  at the opening night of Made In Dagenham in 2014. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Vera Sime at the opening night of Made In Dagenham in 2014. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

PA Archive/PA Images

Vera Sime, one of the original Dagenham Ford strikers, has died aged 88.

Vera was born in north London in 1930, but became a local celebrity when the film, Made in Dagenham, was made about her role in the strikes of the 1960s.

In the last few years of her life, Vera suffered from dementia, and on December 3 she passed away in a care home.

“She was a celebrity in Barking and Dagenham,” said her son, Steven.

“She was a very good person, she was very bubbly and had a strong character. She was the boss of the house.”

Vera was the youngest of six children, and had an identical twin, Joan. She moved to Dagenham as a child, and began working at Ford as a dressmaker when she was 34.

She was very close to Joan – the twins worked together at Ford, had a double wedding and even bought houses next door to each other in Hugo Gardens in Rainham. Vera was married to her husband, Thomas, for more than 60 years before he passed away four years ago.

“I grew up with two mothers,” Steven added.

“During the war they were evacuees in Somerset, and they had a bit of a tough upbringing. I think that’s where she got her strong character from.”

Vera played a pivotal role in the Ford pay strikes. She went to Parliament Square to lobby, and was responsible for the moment in the film, where a banner that’s supposed to read, “we want sex equality,” accidentally read “we want sex”.

“I can remember as a child she was out on the picket constantly,” Steven said.

“My father looked after myself and my two sisters. A lot of the men didn’t support the women at the time, but my father supported her, and he did a great job of raising us.”

Vera retired when she was 60, and spent her retirement travelling, seeing her friends and painting. A keen artist, she was part of a painting club in Dagenham and has a few pieces in Valence House. She was partial to a whiskey and lemonade, and enjoyed spending time with her five grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren.

Vera’s funeral will take place on December 17 at Corbets Tey Crematorium at 2.20pm.

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