OPINION: The Women of the Year recognition for Sheffield’s Women of Steel is an honour for us all

Kit Sollit  with a maquette of the Women of Steel statue.
Kit Sollit with a maquette of the Women of Steel statue.
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The surviving Women of Steel - all now in their 90s - often tell me they don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about.

In their eyes they simply did what was needed.

What that entailed was working in horrendous conditions as bombs dropped, for half the pay of their male counterparts - until the men returned from the frontline and then the women were unceremoniously told to go home without so much as a thanks.

What is perhaps most remarkable though is that many of these women returned to their families and really didn’t ‘make a fuss’ - often their own children weren’t told the stories of what mum did during the war.

And there could be no better reason for a campaign which not only united a city but also had a huge personal impact on hundreds of Sheffield families.

Finally telling these stories often brings the women to tears, even so many decades later.

You would have to have a heart of stone not to be personally affected by the tales of staggeringly important work carried out by the young women who are now Sheffield’s mums, grans, great and even great, great grans.

On Monday we are representing all of them, including the thousands no longer with us, at the Women of the Year lunch in London.

Soon we will all have a permanent reminder in the shape of the Women of Steel statue, right in the heart of the city.

It has been a challenge for women of the age of Kathleen Roberts and Kit Sollitt, both now in their 90s, to keep up the campaign - but they do it because it matters to so many people.

Working as a local journalist in the city where you were born is a huge privilege.

Being able to work alongside and help such women is amazing - being honoured for that is completely unexpected.

It is our job to represent you, our readers, and more widely the wonderful city of Sheffield.

This unique campaign most certainly did that, so on Monday we raise a toast to all the Women of Steel, the positive power of the local press and your support in helping The Star honour our city’s amazing women.

READ MORE ABOUT THE WOMEN OF STEEL AT THE WOMEN OF THE YEAR LUNCH IN MONDAY’S STAR