Eight Y2 pupils played an important role in the ceremony to unveil the Women of Steel statue on 17 June 2016 in Barkers Pool. Sheffield women kept the steel industry functioning during the First and Second World Wars, and the statue, representing two chirpy boiler-suited young women linking arms, is a lasting testimony to their vital contribution to the war effort. Situated outside the City Hall, the statue was designed by the women themselves in collaboration with the sculptor, Martin Jennings, and was paid for through public appeal, which raised over £160,000.
104 of the remaining 141 women gathered together, in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, the Lord Mayor, Master Cutler, Assay Master, MPs and councillors, surrounded by crowds of families, friends and well-wishers. They were celebrated in speech, by Leader of the Council Julie Dore, and in three rousing, specially-commissioned songs.
Following the formal proceedings, the four women who had been pivotal in bringing the project to fruition unveiled the statue, and were presented with beautiful bouquets of fragrant, white flowers by the Tinsley pupils, who received delighted hugs from the ladies in return. The ladies then proceeded to dance to the music, belying their great age! Thanks to the public’s generous response to the appeal, sufficient funds remained for commemorative medals to be struck by the Assay Office. The women at the ceremony were presented with their medals during a celebratory lunch in the City Hall. The families of the 300+ women no longer with us could collect their medals from a separate marquee in Barkers Pool. Pupils from Dore Primary presented the medals. The whole event was streamed live on The Star website, and was covered by Calendar and Look North.
It was a very moving tribute and, given the numbers of Tinsley residents who worked in the steel industry, very fitting that some of our pupils were invited to be a part of the proceedings, linking the past to the future – it was a great honour to be present at such a marking of social history. The children joined in beautifully, asked pertinent questions, behaved perfectly, stood patiently through the speeches, joined in the songs and played their part admirably – they were a credit to the school and to Tinsley. A happy coincidence on the way there was for pupils to actually meet by chance a Woman of Steel, who was also travelling by tram on her way to the ceremony and delighted to talk to the children!
You can read more about the unveiling in the Sheffield star article here: