Spreading the word on the work of war heroines
Our Women of Steel are back in Sheffield for a well-earned rest after mingling with royalty at Buckingham Palace, meeting stars backstage at the Palladium and being guests of honour at the Imperial War Museum.
Wartime steel workers Kathleen Roberts and Ruby Gascoigne headed to London to represent all the women who kept the foundries going when the men were sent to the front line.
But despite all the careful planning even the Queen couldn’t stop a downpour and everybody at the garden party got a real soaking.
The Queen was joined by Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince Edward, Sophie and Princess Ann.
Kathleen, who sparked The Star’s campaign, was thrilled to spread the word about the work that Sheffield women carried out during World War I.
The 89-year-old said: “In the pouring rain, the royal family did carry on, they all worked separately and finished up in the VIP lounge. It was a great day but we were all soaked and there were some beautiful clothes ruined.”
After the event at the palace, the pair went to the Palladium and were given the best seats in the house to see The Wizard of Oz before being led into Michael Crawford’s dressing room.
Ruby’s son Kevin said: “After a few moments, out came the great man himself, introducing himself to the ladies like a long standing friend and chatting to them for a good 20 minutes.
“The ladies handed him a copy of the Women of Steel book, which he gratefully accepted and promised to read.
“He wished the girls well and said he truly hoped that they got the monument built in Sheffield to commemorate the work done by all the Women of Steel.
The next morning Ruby and Kathleen became VIPs at the Imperial War Museum and made sure the Women of Steel had their rightful place recorded in history.
“The museum was a brilliant experience for the girls and they were treat like Royalty from the minute they arrived,” Kevin said.
“They promised the ladies that their work would now be officially recognised within the museum and that The Star’s book would be entered into the archives.
“They then took us into another room where work by lady artists from the war were being displayed, and where a huge picture of the steel works was on display, though tellingly, the picture did not feature women working!
“It had been a wonderful couple of days, spoilt only by the rain at the Palace, but the ladies really feel as though they have achieved something by getting their work recognised in the museum that deals with war time experiences.
“They looked absolutely beautiful and I was so proud to be escorting them. ”