Women of steel on song in final fundraising push for statue appeal

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THESE FORMER factory girls are made of stern stuff, so it will provide a fitting tribute when they are immortalised in 
bronze.

The last surviving women who kept Sheffield’s steel works going during the Second World War gathered to celebrate the last leg of the fundraising drive to build a statue in their honour.

Kit Sollit, one of the last surviving members of Sheffield's ' Women of Steel' campaign with a maquette of the statue.

Kit Sollit, one of the last surviving members of Sheffield's ' Women of Steel' campaign with a maquette of the statue.

Now all in their 90s, the so-called ‘women of steel’ are encouraging the city to get behind the appeal to raise the final £9,000 needed by attending a special concert.

Music in the Round, the UK’s largest promoter of chamber music outside of London, is donating profits from its opener for the autumn season, which takes place at the city centre’s Crucible theatre on Thursday, October 9.

Director Deborah Chadbourn said: “Music in the Round is really proud to support this campaign, and proud to be based in a city that takes the role its women played in both wars so seriously.

“Music is a fantastic way for people to come together and celebrate the contribution that these women made.”

The concert is one of a trio of events set to raise enough cash to allow sculptor Martin Jennings to get to work on the statue, which will stand outside Sheffield City Hall. A folk 
concert takes place at Sheffield Cathedral on Wednesday November 26.

And for the last-remaining women of steel – Kathleen Roberts, Kit Sollit, Dorothy Slingsby and Ruby Gascoinge – that day cannot come soon enough.

It has taken just over 18 months of fundraising to reach the £150,000 target for a permanent reminder of the women who worked 13-hour shifts to produce tanks, planes, ships and weapons while men fought on the front line.

The completed statue is expected to be unveiled in 2016.

Great-grandmother Mrs Roberts, 92, said: “None of us are getting any younger, so I am glad we are near the target. It’s not just the four of us this is for, it’s for all of the other women who did their bit.”