Steel appeal launch

Artist Steve Mehdi with a bronze maquette of his Man of Steel sculpture for the M1 near Sheffield
Artist Steve Mehdi with a bronze maquette of his Man of Steel sculpture for the M1 near Sheffield
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A £2.5 million fundraising drive is to be launched to turn a giant Man of Steel sculpture for South Yorkshire into reality.

It is hoped the region’s answer to the Angel of the North will be towering above the M1, near Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, from 2016.

Sculptor Steve Mehdi has already secured pledges of materials from local firms worth £1m for the 30m-high stainless steel structure.

He has also secured a wealth of technical expertise, a four-metre model of the design and a reserved spot on a hilltop on the Kimberworth side of the motorway.

Now, after five years of planning and negotiations, Steve has drawn up a business plan to make his vision come true.

He aims to target both the private sector and public organisations, while one idea is to give individuals the chance to have their name engraved on the statue’s two-and-a-half metre wide heart for £20 a time.

Mr Mehdi said: “It is going to happen. We have got the team and a funding strategy that has really been thought through.

“We want to do a public appeal. While the project is private sector led, we feel it is important people in the region have the opportunity to invest in it.”

The Grindleford-based artist said a local businessman had offered £1 million to match funding from companies, while an application was also to be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The sculpture, which is now officially known as the Yorkshire Man of Steel, is designed to signpost the future of the area in specialist steels and engineering.

Sheffield Hallam University experts estimate it will generate £9 million a year from extra visitors coming to the region.

Mr Mehdi believes it will also provide a true landmark to replace the famous Tinsley cooling towers which used to stand near the site.

He said: “The main legacy will be education. We want to encourage pupils to consider engineering and science as a career.”