Wednesday, 6 July 2011

News - Palace date for wartime steel women (Sheffield)

Our Women of Steel are off to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

More than 60 years after they were unceremoniously fired from the foundries as the men returned from war, the women who kept the steelworks going in the battle against Hitler will finally get the royal seal of approval.

The Star’s campaign to get official recognition for the Women of Steel has seen them have tea with the Prime Minister at No 10 and be welcomed inside the Ministry of Defence .

Now they are heading to a garden party at the Palace.

Sheffield City Council has pledged to build a permanent memorial in the city centre to remember their vital work.

Great-great-grandmother Ruby Gascoigne will travel to London this month with 89-year-old Kathleen Roberts, who launched the campaign, and the pair will represent thousands of women across South Yorkshire.

Ruby’s son Kevin first contacted the Palace last year about the campaign and after no success, tried again last week, hoping to get recognition for the women.

This time he contacted Princess Anne and within days hit the jackpot.

Kevin said: “Last year I met Princess Anne at a corporate reception. She was such a lovely lady and took so much time talking to us all that I began to wonder whether she may have any interest in the campaign for recognition.

“I wrote a letter to her last Friday more in hope than expectation after our previous let downs.

“To my utter amazement, I received a call on Monday evening from a lady who introduced herself as the garden party organiser for the Palace.

“She went on to say that Princess Anne had asked for her to invite Ruby and myself, together with another one of the Women of Steel along to the Palace.

“I am thrilled to bits by this and Ruby is beside herself with excitement.

“I would love it if we could get Princess Anne to agree to unveil the Sheffield monument on its completion, because it will happen, I am determined to make sure that it does.”

More than 100 women who filled roles in the steelworks during the war have had their names added to The Star’s roll honour.

Hundreds of other families got in touch to say their mums, grandmas or sisters had died before being given any recognition.

They took on jobs left empty as men were sent to the frontline and balanced bringing up children with making bullets, bombs, planes and boats.

The survivors were officially thanked for their role in the war effort with a letter from the Ministry of Defence. Receptions were organised by Sheffield and Rotherham Councils to honour them.

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