VIDEO: Making big strides for statue at Star Walk

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IT was a beautiful day for a walk.

The rain held off and the sun came out just in time as hundreds of people set off on The Star Walk yesterday – the first one held in the city for more than 10 years.

The Star Walk 2013  - From left, Dorothy Slingsby, Kitty Sollitt and Katlhleen Roberts warm-up

The Star Walk 2013 - From left, Dorothy Slingsby, Kitty Sollitt and Katlhleen Roberts warm-up

And the one-mile route, in the grounds of Hillsborough Sports Arena, was designed especially so that the stars of the day could take part – Sheffield’s own Women of Steel.

The small group of ladies, all aged in their 90s now, were right at the front ready to lead the 370-strong crowd as the race got under way at 11am.

“It’s a beautiful day and I’m ready for this walk,” 92-year-old Dorothy Slingsby told The Star.

“There’s a heck of a lot of people have turned out here today to support us, it’s incredible and truly heartwarming.”

The Star Walk was reinstated this year for the first time in over a decade to help raise funds for a permanent statue to be erected in Barker’s Pool, honouring the Women of Steel and their war efforts.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Coun John Campbell said: “These women did such wonderful work for us, they kept the steel industry of Sheffield going during some terrible conditions.

“They put themselves at risk and while others were hunkering down in air raid shelters, they remained in the factories working away.

“They’re an important piece of history that must never be forgotten and I applaud everybody who’s taking part here today for helping to make this statue a reality.”

Woman of Steel Kit Solitt, 93, said: “We’ve been waiting so long for this statue and I’m so thrilled with how many people are here for us.”

Many Sheffielders took the opportunity to dress up for the occasion – and one familiar face in particular stood out in the crowd.

“I’ve come as Bess of Hardwick,” explained Barbara Ashton, of Sheffield.

“After all, Bess was the original woman of steel, with all she managed to achieve as a single mother with six children. I thought she was the perfect mascot for the day.”

Another large group of women also stood out, wearing vests with the name Betty Wragg printed under a black and white photograph.

“Betty is the reason we’re all here today,” explained one woman, indicating the smiling face on her vest.

“We’re her family – we have daughters, sisters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren of hers here today. She was a Woman of Steel and worked at Osbornes in the war. We’re so proud of her and we’re here today walking for her.”

A number of Star staff also took part in the walk, including Editor Jeremy Clifford.

“We’re so pleased The Star walk is back after a 10-year break,” he said.

“One gentleman has already begged me to make sure we hold it every year again and I think after today’s success we’ll certainly be doing our best.”

And for winner Katie Ford, who completed the one-mile lap in record time, the day had a real sense of deja-vu.

“I won The Star Walk as a child nearly 20 years ago,” said 31-year-old Katie, who did the whole route using the now famous Star Walk wiggle.

“We used to do it every year as my dad, Geoff Ford, organised the Star Walk back in its heyday.

“He taught me the legendary hip action as a toddler and I think I could Star Walk before I could walk normally!

“Sadly my dad’s not with us anymore, so I’m keeping it in the family for him today.

“It’s lovely to see it back.”