Sheffield’s Women Of Steel held back tears of joy today as council chiefs ordered work to begin on their statue - after an ‘amazing’ £62,000 was raised at The Star-backed concert at the weekend, writes Graham Walker.
Heaven 17, ABC’s Martin Fry, Tony Christie, John Parr, Eliot Kennedy, Jon McClure, John Reilly and other homegrown stars all performed for free at Sheffield City Hall and smashed way beyond the £40,000 target.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report.
Council leader Julie Dore has made an impassioned plea to steel companies, other businesses and individuals to bring in the rest of the cash, with the appeal total now just £38,000 short.
And she’s so confident she has given the green light for work to begin on the £150,000 statue, to honour the women who kept the city’s steel mills going in two world wars.
She told The Star: “The concert had some of the most fantastic artistes to come out of Sheffield, and was one of the most amazing evenings we have had in a very long time.
“To raise just under £62,000 is unbelievable.
“I just can’t find words to express how wonderful it is. And we will build this statue now.
“But we need a total of £150,000 to get it done - a final push.
“So all you steel companies out there, all you individuals with great ideas - get fundraising.”
Dorothy Slingsby, aged 92, one of the Women Of Steel from the Second World War, was overwhelmed by the news. The women, dwindling in numbers, want to see the statue in their lifetime.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” she said. “I’ll have to have a word with him up there and tell him I’m not coming yet,” said Dorothy, who was a crane driver. She partied after the concert until midnight.
Eliot Kennedy, The Star’s Graham Walker and former Sheffield Hallam University communications director John Palmer co-organised the concert.
John said: “ There’s been lots of fundraising. But we can say we built this statue on rock and roll.”
There are calls to unveil the statue next year as part of commemorations marking the start of the First World War. But the lengthy process could mean it is unveiled in early 2015, said Andrew Skelton, Sheffield’s Public Art Officer.
He said of the 6ft 6ins statue, to be made by sculptor Martin Jennings and sited outside the City Hall: “None of us expected we would suddenly get most of the money - we were thinking we had a much longer timescale.
“It will be over lifesize to give it civic presence. People will be able to link arms with it. It’s being cast in bronze to last hundreds of years.”
Donate online to top up the fund at www.justgiving.com/womenofsteel.