South Yorkshire music and showbiz icons are to pay tribute to Sheffield’s Women of Steel – by taking part free of charge in a star-studded fundraising concert, writes Graham Walker.
Tickets go on sale at 9.30am tomorrow - Thursday, June 6 - for the event at Sheffield City Hall, on Saturday, November 9.
It will help to pay for a £150,000 statue to honour the inspirational women who braved Adolf Hilter’s bombs, to keep the nation and the steel mills going while their men went off to fight for freedom.
Now dwindling in numbers and all in their 80s and 90s, the Women of Steel have a last wish, to see the statue they were promised erected outside the City Hall.
Artist Martin Jennings has been commissioned to make the statue and Sheffield Council has committed £28,000 to the project so far, with more than £33,000 also pledged at www.justgiving.com/womenofsteel.
South Yorkshire Community Foundation will raise money locally.
The Women of Steel Concert aims to raise another £40,000 and celebrate the city’s illustrious history.
Sheffield’s own Grammy award-winner Eliot Kennedy and special guests will lead the house band for this once-in-a-lifetime concert, which will see all acts performing for free.
Already confirmed are Sheffield electro giants Heaven 17, ABC’s Martin Fry, You’re Gorgeous hitmakers Baby Bird, John Shuttleworth, the comedy creation of Graham Fellows, singer-songwriter John Reilly and Boy on a Dolphin, Philippa Hanna, who recently toured with Lionel Richie, folk star John Tams, songwriter Ray Hearne and Cornerstone Brass, who are regional champions.
There will be appearances by Reverend and the Makers’ frontman Jon McClure, Dean Andrews from hit TV show Life on Mars, radio presenters including Steve White from Hallam FM and Hirsty from Capital Radio, BBC Ancient Egypt presenter Joann Fletcher, and many more.
Other big names are busy reorganising their diaries to be part of the fundraiser, which is in association with Eliot Kennedy’s One Song Foundation.
The Star, which led a campaign to get the Women of Steel the recognition they deserved, took a group of the women to Downing Street four years ago – where their efforts were publicly acknowledged by the Prime Minister.
Now The Star is a headline sponsor of the concert, with Pyronix and Sheffield Hallam University. Sheffield International Venues, Human Design Studios, HR Media, and Very Creative Ltd Event Sound and Lighting are also supporting.
Other organisations are being encouraged to get involved with a special package that includes a pre-show Yorkshire Supper and an after-show party in the City Hall Ballroom.
Sheffield’s Lord Mayor Coun Vickie Priestley, Council Leader Julie Dore, Master Cutler Neil MacDonald, Chamber of Commerce CEO Richard Wright, and MPs Clive Betts, Paul Blomfield, David Blunkett, Meg Munn, Angela Smith and Nick Clegg are all giving it their support. They are making a personal appeal for companies to support the cause by sponsoring the event or buying a hospitality table.
John Palmer, former director of communications at Sheffield Hallam University, who is working with The Star’s Graham Walker and Eliot Kennedy to produce the show, said: “Sheffield’s music and entertainment stars are appearing free, the City Hall is waiving its fee and several businesses are already providing free services to make this event a success.
“There are, though, production costs we have to meet, so bringing more companies and organisations on board will pay for those and ensure that even more money will go to the appeal. What better way to show how proud we are of these amazing women, who truly deserve permanent recognition.
“Once we said we wanted to do the gig, we’ve had loads of support from the bands and entertainers and we’re still in discussion with several more who are desperately keen to take part.
“This could only happen in Sheffield and we’re really pleased that our local big names want to honour some of the city’s most deserving characters, whose achievements should not die with them.
“The Strength of Steel; the Power of Community; the Fusion of Equality and the Eagerness to Stand Shoulder to Shoulder to support what we believe in – that’s at the heart of Sheffield.
“And in this special year, also celebrating the centenary of stainless steel, we want to show the world that the traditional values which made us famous in the past will bring us respect in the future.”
* Tickets are £20 and £22, may be subject to a booking fee, and are available from tomorrow, Thursday, June 6, at 9.30am.
Make your evening extra special with a Yorkshire inspired VIP supper before the concert, including welcome drink, pie and peas, premium seats and a ticket to the after show party, where you and your guests will be able to mix with some of the stars of the show.
Buy in person from the venue, call the Box Office on 0114 2789789, or visit www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk
Can’t get there, but want to make a donation? Visit www.justgiving.com/womenofsteel.