During the Second World War, the Sheffield ‘Women of Steel’ kept the steelworks running, working 13-hour shifts to produce tanks, planes, ships and weapons, whilst their men were fighting for King and country. When the war ended, the women were simply sent home, without medals or indeed any kind of thank-you.
There were four former 'Women of Steel' who spearheaded the campaign for recognition of the work they did during that time and their campaign led them around the country, meeting many famous faces on the way. Sadly, of the four, only Kathleen Roberts is still with us, early in 2020 she was interviewed once again by the Sheffield Star newspaper
Now dwindling in numbers, the surviving Women of Steel were all in their 80s and 90s, but they were all invited to the unveiling ceremony on Friday June 17th 2016 at 11.30am when they were presented with medals to thank them for their amazing work. Relatives of Women of Steel who are no longer with us also collected posthumous medals on their behalf.
It is hoped the statue will also become an inspiration for other women today and in the future because the rest of the money raised by the people of Sheffield and the surrounding areas will be used to create apprenticeships in engineering for local girls.
John Reilly was inspired by the braveness of the ladies, so much so that he began his 'Women of Steel project, starting with more songs such as his Remembrance Day tribute 'When I Come Marching Home' and he is now in the process of writing a screenplay for either television or theatre - watch this space !!