VIDEO: First look at medals for Sheffield Women Of Steel

You said they deserved a medal and here it is - to finally honour Sheffield's brave wartime Women Of Steel.

Women Of Steel medals
Women Of Steel medals

After a lifetime wait the girls who kept the munitions factories going to help win two world wars are being celebrated at last.

And it's all thanks to you.

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VIDEO: Press the play button above to watch the Women Of Steel medals being made at Sheffield's Assay Office.

A Star backed public appeal to fund a statue - depicting two of the women in boiler suits, linking arms - will be unveiled in Barkers Pool, on Friday, June 17.

It's going up outside the still blitz marked Sheffield City Hall, where the ladies had tea dances during WWII,

Now after smashing an initial fundraising target of £150,000 and adding an extra £20,000, special silver plated copper medals have also been made.

Hundreds will be given out, on the day the statue is unveiled, to the surviving women, now in their 90s,or proud families of those no longer here.

Women Of Steel medals

One side has an image of the two women, based on the top half of the statue designed by Martin Jennings. The other side is engraved, simply: “With thanks to our wartime Women of Steel from the people of Sheffield”.

It is envisaged around 500 will be given out and the search is now on to find all the women who worked in the city's steel works, during both world wars.

There has already been applications for more than 300, so far including around 90 surviving Women Of Steel who all plan to attend the ceremony.

The medal is being produced at Sheffield Assay Office, which donated all the metal for the medals, with the support of Assay Master and Chief Executive Ashley Carson.

Assay Master Ashley Carson shows of the Women Of Steel medals.

"We're really excited to be involved and producing the medals, so well deserved," he said, at the Assay Office in Beulah Road, Hillsborough.

"I first heard about the Women Of Steel when I attended fundraising concerts some 18 months ago. It's just something the Assay Office - with its own historical heritage - wanted to be involved with.

"We are here by act of parliament to hallmark gold, silver, platinum and palladium items. So this is very different for us to also be producing something. We've been using our press."

Stamping the blanks and turning out the medals on the press by hand, is Sheffield man Danny Smith, aged 38, Deputy Production Manager.

Women Of Steel at work in the munitions factory - helping to win the fight for freedom.

He explained how two special dies, one featuring the image on the front of the medal and the other with the words on the reverse, are fitted in position,

He said: "I press the run button, there are two strikes at about 60 tons and we finish up with the medals."

They will be presented in a crimson and silver presentation box, provided at cost by M M Bell & Sons, of Sheffield.

A number of commemorative medals will be produced in 925 Sterling Silver with a blank face value of £100 per coin.

Women Of Steel Kathleen Roberts, 94, and Kit Sollitt, 96, who recently made a six hour round trip to see the statue being cast in bronze at the Pangolin Editions foundry, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, have been figureheads during the campaign along with with Ruby Gascoigne and Dorothy Slingsby, who will play a role in unveiling the statue.

Kathleen, 94, said: "This is fantastic. I can't wait to see the medal and the finished statue. We were so determined to see women finally recognised for what we did. We flogged ourselves to death during the war. Now they won't forget us."

Women Of Steel survivors with a model of their statue where it will go up outside Sheffield City Hall.

Full details of the ceremony, including timings, will be announced soon.

There is a criteria to request a medal, with application forms available from the receptions at The Star, in York Street and Sheffield Town Hall.

Applications can also be made online at

The Star editor Nancy Fielder helped to highlight the cause which resulted in her escorting a party of them six years ago to 10 Downing Street, where then Prime Minister Gordon Brown officially thanked the ladies publicly for the first time.

Sheffield City Council launched a statue appeal and fundraising champions John Palmer, former communications director at Sheffield Hallam University and The Star's digital editor Graham Walker drove it with high profile concerts which sparked community fundraising efforts, from coffee mornings to charity runs.

Graham said: "Our Women Of Steel deserved a medal and now they are getting one, thanks to the generous folk of South Yorkshire. It's been overwhelming. This should have happened a lifetime ago, but better late than never."

John Palmer added: “When we knew there would be extra money, we decided that we should give the women something personal that they and their families could keep.

"The statue is something everyone can share and is a fitting acknowledgement of what the women did together. The medal is something special for each individual woman from the people of Sheffield.

"A medallion produced by Sheffield’s Assay Office and reflecting the statue seemed a perfect way to say thank you and now we want to make sure that every woman who deserves one will actually get one.”

Julie Dore, Sheffield City Council leader, said: “The medals look fantastic, I’m so pleased that we are able to honour our inspirational Women of Steel in this way.

“It would not have been possible without contributions from all the people who gave so generously and goes to show how treasured these ladies are to the people of Sheffield.

“The statue creates a lasting legacy that will ensure the Women of Steel and their hard work is always remembered and I look forward to showing our appreciation at the unveiling on June 17, and presenting them with their very own piece of history from this special occasion.”

Women Of Steel medals
Assay Master Ashley Carson shows of the Women Of Steel medals.
Women Of Steel at work in the munitions factory - helping to win the fight for freedom.
Women Of Steel survivors with a model of their statue where it will go up outside Sheffield City Hall.