Now for a statue to Women of Steel

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THE plaque has been unveiled, now a fundraising drive is being prepared for a city centre statue in honour of Sheffield’s Women of Steel.

Already thousands of pounds in donations have been pledged towards a prominent reminder of the women who kept the city’s steelworks producing the bombs, bullets, planes and ships for the Second World War effort.

A figurative statue, probably made of bronze, is being planned, as a result of asking the women for their views, and the likely cost is expected to be up to £150,000.

The council, which is giving £28,000, hopes to have it in place by next November.

Not-for-profit healthcare scheme, Westfield Health, has given £5,000 and at least four other organisations have offered donations.

After the unveiling on Sunday of the commemorative plaque in Balm Green, next to the City Hall, council leader Julie Dore, said: “We are waiting until the women have chosen an artist and a model has been created of the proposed statue, which we expect to be some time next year, before the appeal is launched.

“Yet we are already receiving donations. After Westfield Health came forward, two other organisations approached me and there were at least a couple more offers to council officers.

“It’s been a really encouraging start and I feel optimistic that we can make this project a reality.”

The council has appointed David Heugh, who has been involved with Freeman College and the Lyceum Theatre Trust, to help lead the fundraising.

Coun Dore said: “There is a multitude of trusts around the country which provide funding for a range of projects and we are asking David to find out which we are eligible to approach for help.”

Ruby Gascoigne, aged 89, one of the surviving Women of Steel, who worked at WT Flather’s at Templeborough, said: “It’s wonderful that organisations are already starting to donate and we really hope we can raise the amount needed.”

The plaque was unveiled by Ruby and several other Women of Steel, joined by family and friends, along with Coun Dore, Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley, Master Cutler Pam Liversidge, president of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Suzanne Liversidge and Amy Pryce, an apprentice at Firth Rixson engineering works.

Women of Steel campaigner Kathleen Roberts said: “Today is history in the making and the Women of Steel have earned their name and their place in history and have finally been recognised.

“We have all played a role in Sheffield history and we are part of the fabric of this city. Sheffield made steel but steel made Sheffield.”

After the ceremony, a tea dance was held in the Winter Garden.