Steel Women shine on the national stage

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Sheffield’s Women of Steel were back in the national spotlight when BBC Radio 4 broadcast live from the city centre.

Kathleen Roberts – who sparked The Star’s campaign to get official recognition for the women who kept the city’s steelworks producing during the wars – was given centre stage alongside Kit Sollitt in the Winter Garden.

‘I still can’t believe one phone call to The Star started such a huge campaign’

Kathleen Roberts

The pair were invited to take part in Woman’s Hour to spread word of the campaign which started back in November 2009.

The show was hosted by Jane Garvey as part of the BBC’s Cue Sheffield – to mark the city hosting the World Snooker Championship – and drew a crowd of onlookers.

Kath and Kit spoke about their experiences in the steelworks and fundraising for the Women of Steel statue, which is due to be unveiled outside City Hall next year.

Kathleen said: “I still can’t believe one phone call to The Star started such a huge campaign and even now there is national interest in it.

“After that first call. I cried for hours because I thought I’d made a fool of myself.

“I didn’t think anybody would be interested in our stories.”

However, as soon as The Star ran Kathleen’s story, the newspaper was inundated with calls from women who had similar experiences, as well as families who wanted their mums and grandmothers included in the tribute, even through they had died many years before.

The Star took four of the women to Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence – winning official recognition in the form of a letter thanking the survivors for the role they had played during the war.

The women also spearheaded the fundraising campaign for the statue, which included major concerts and individual donations.

During yesterday’s Woman’s Hour, snooker player Reanne Evans and referee Michaela Tabb featured to talk about their careers, alongside Olympic gold medallist Joanna Rowsell who focused on the Women’s Tour de Yorkshire.

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