Thursday 19 May 2016

The first of hundreds of medallions, commissioned especially to honour the Sheffield Women of Steel was struck yesterday at The Sheffield Assay Office in preparation for presentation at the commemorative statue unveiling ceremony on 17 June.

Following a public fundraising campaign, which saw the target of £150,000 smashed by the people of Sheffield, the city will honour the women who showed bravery and determination working in Sheffield’s steel works throughout two world wars, with a commemorative statue, plus a commemorative medallion for each of them or their families to keep.

The Sheffield Assay Office began pressing the medals yesterday, which are based on the statue designed by Martin Jennings and will be presented at the unveiling ceremony on 17 June outside Sheffield City Hall where the ladies attended tea dances during WWII.

Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The commemorative medallions 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 special these women 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.”

Nearly 400 women will be honoured with the silver-plated medals which are being pressed by a 360-ton press – specifically sourced by the Assay Office. One side of the medal has a picture of the statue and the other is engraved ‘With thanks to our wartime Women of Steel from the people of Sheffield’.

Ashley Carson, Assay Master, said: “We are extremely proud to be doing our bit to recognise the heroes whose tireless work helped Britain during the wars.

“With more than two centuries of history, the Sheffield Assay Office has been through both world wars and we know how important it is to remember and honour those who worked so bravely.

“We take great pride in our work and it makes it even more rewarding when we are creating something which will mean so much to the ladies and their families. These medals celebrate the courage and determination of a group of unsung heroes, and I greatly look forward to the presentation in June.”

Watch Ashley as he talks bout the medallions and how they are made.

The idea for medals was developed when the funding target of £150,000 was exceeded and the appeal reached £170,000. John Palmer, who coordinated the fundraising appeal, said: “When we knew we had the extra cash, we thought there was no better way to honour our Women of Steel personally than with a commemorative medallion.

“The statue is something everyone can share and is a fitting acknowledgement of what the women did together. The medallion is a thank you to each individual woman from the people of Sheffield who came together as a community to raise the money for this everlasting symbol of how much they are treasured.”

There’s still time for Sheffield’s wartime heroines and their families to receive a medal at the statue unveiling ceremony. People can apply up to Friday 20 May, online at www.sheffield.gov.uk/womenofsteel or application forms are available from the receptions of the Town Hall and The Sheffield Star. Applications will continue to be accepted after that date but those medals will not be available in time for the ceremony.

Invitations have been issued this week to those who have applied so far, with many being sent across the globe to Florida, South Africa, Canada and Australia, and 80 of those invitations have been sent to the women themselves all in their nineties, who demonstrated all those years ago what it means to be a woman of steel.

The ceremony takes place on Friday 17 June from 11:30am in Barker’s Pool, it’s free to attend and everyone is welcome.

Julie Dore added: “This occasion highlights the true spirit of Sheffield people, not only the women we are celebrating, but all those who have made this idea become a reality. I really hope that everyone who supported the appeal will join us for the unveiling to make it a special day for the city and the Women of Steel.”