JULIE Dore comes from a traditional Sheffield background, with the requisite touch of Sheffield steel.
Her mother was a buffer in a cutlery works, her father a hod carrier, and she left Hurlfield School at 16 with a handful of O-levels to become a wages clerk at Gleeson Construction.
Her boss saw potential and sent her to college to train as a quantity surveyor.
Further education helped her to realise her potential. “I have worked hard all my life, since the day I left school,” she says.
Her family taught her that, no matter where you come from, everybody should be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. It’s an approach to life she carried through into her politics.
Moreover, she can reflect on her experiences as a mother in forging her character and beliefs.
Her first day as Labour leader at a full council last year coincided with then 18-year-old son Tom, who has autism, setting off for a special needs residential unit in Grimsby.
It didn’t work out but the matter was quickly rectified and he is now happy at the Freeman College in Sheffield.
Elder son Jim, now 20, is a horticultural apprentice in Millhouses Park.
Coun Dore says she learned how to get things done largely from being a mother, especially from fighting for Tom’s rights. “I learned that knowledge is power and that asking the right people for help is paramount to success.”
There was also the lesson of going by your instincts.
It was her predecessor as Labour leader, Jan Wilson, who encouraged her to join the council. Coun Dore became her agent.
She had a mentor, one with a similar background and outlook, and the working relationship was so strong that when the new Labour leader first drove into the town hall car park, she couldn’t bring herself to use her late predecessor’s space.
Coun Dore’s political leanings have changed over the years. “I was a socialist firebrand but as I got older and wiser you have to be more pragmatic and practical.”
Will she succeed Jan Wilson as the next Labour council leader?
Her family are fully behind her. “My boys have grown up now and I have got an extremely close-knit family who all support each other.”
And she is eyeing another achievement this year – celebrating her silver wedding anniversary with husband Paul, an engineer, in October.