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VIDEO: Women Of Steel Concert’s £50K for statue

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The Look Of Love said it all - as ABC’s Martin Fry and and Tony Christie kissed Woman Of Steel Kathleen Roberts to celebrate more than £50,000 raised at a Star backed concert to help fund a statue honouring the women, writes Graham Walker

Heaven 17, Eliot Kennedy, John Parr, John Reilly, John Shuttleworth, Baby Bird and a galaxy of other stars came out to shine.

And it smashed all expectations - on stage and off - with the region’s music legends performing greatest hits to raise much more than anticipated from a generous crowd of 2,000 people at a sold out Sheffield City Hall.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our exclusive vidfeo report including performance highlights.

DONATE: Make a donation to the staue appeal now at www.justgiving.com/womenofsteel.

Last-minute ticket sales and fundraising on the night more than doubled the ongoing appeal total, which today now stands at around £100,000.

It brings much closer the dream of having the £150,000 statue in place next year, marking the centenary of the start of the Great War, to honour the women who kept the steel mills going in two world wars.

Four survivors, representing the one-time hundreds of World War Two women of steel, who are now dwindling in numbers and want to see the statue in their lifetime, were put in the spotlight, up in the Circle, for a Concord Fanfare to get the show under way.

Kathleen, now aged 91, built Spitfire parts, Kit Solitt, 92, was a tanks and battleships parts maker, Ruby Gascoigne, 92, worked in the steel rolling mill and Dorothy Slingsby, also 92, was an overhead crane driver.

Kathleen said: “This was an amazing night. Wonderful. I can’t believe they did it for us.”

Many of the women went on to the after show party to celebrate until 1am - showing the spirit that won the war,

Broadcaster Christa Ackroyd played host to introduce the night, including a welcome from Sheffield’s own Grammy award winning producer and song king Eliot Kennedy, who helped to put the house band together, and Sheffield Hallam University’s former Communications Director John Palmer - co-organisers of the show with The Star’s own digital editor Graham Walker.

What followed was one of the greatest gatherings of talent ever to grace the City Hall stage on the same bill, with hit after hit made in Sheffield and the region.

Electro legends Heaven 17, featuring front man Glen Gregory and keyboard wizard Martyn Ware – who was also a founding member of Heaven 17 – performed Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry, Let Me Go, their favourite Heaven 17 song, and one of the many show highlights, Temptation.

ABC’s Martin Fry stormed the stage with Shoot That Poison Arrow, When Smokey Sings and The Look Of Love.

He brought along wife Julie and mum-in-law Nora Awoko, who used to work at Firth Brown steelworks, now part of Sheffield Forgemasters. He said: “She is a woman of steel so it was great to be part of a fantastic show like tonight. The trick was to roll back time and get the crowd up.”

Conisbrough’s Tony Christie sang Avenues and Alleyways and his chart-topping Is This the Way to Amarillo? All the acts joined him for that.

Comedy genius Graham Fellows, in character as John Shuttleworth, had the audience laughing out loud with Can’t Get Back To Savouries, Two Margarines and Why, Reg? Baby Bird performed their massive hit, You’re Gorgeous.

Reverend and the Maker’s front man Jon McClure, only expected to introduce Martin Fry, grabbed a guitar for an impromptu haunting acoustic version of band hit Yes You Do.

Rock superstar John Parr thrilled with his guitar skills and played his global smash St Elmo’s Fire.

Eliot Kennedy, who with James Jayawardena led the house band of top musicians, performed self-penned classics Picture of You, Say You’ll Be There and When You’re Gone.

City singer-songwriter John Reilly sung This City and Fire.

Eliot, John Parr and John Reilly got a standing ovation when they closed the show with the world premiere of a new song they have written, called Women Of Steel, with plans to now release it as a Mother’s Day single for the appeal.

Guest presenters included Dean Andrews, from Life On Mars, BBC TV history presenter Joann Fletcher and radio presenters including BBC Radio Sheffield’s Toby Foster, Real Radio’s Dixie and Gayle, Capital’s Simon Hirst and Hallam FM’s Steve White.

Also on the bill and after show were X Factor star Janet Devlin, Philippa Hanna, Nat Johnson, Cornerstone brass band, Ray Hearne, Purple Cats Community Choir, The Yorkshire Tea Bags, Classic Calypso, Paul Pashley and The Tempertons.

Video shout outs on a big screen, from stars who could not attend, included Brian Blessed, Paul Carrack, Kim Wilde, Katherine Kelly, Lucy Spraggan, Micky Flanagan and Jason Manford.

Richard Hawley, Lesley Garrett, Paul Carrack, Kate Rusby and The Everly Pregnant Brothers, who could not be there, are among stars, also including the likes of Heaven 17, who have also donated tracks for a £10.99 download Women Of Steel fundraising album, available now from the concert’s web site at www.womenofsteeltheconcert.co.uk and through iTunes.

John Palmer said: “We’ve been working on it for 18-months. It was a dream. Tonight we woke up and it wasn’t a nightmare. We’ve raised more than £50,000 and we’re still counting. A brilliant success.”

Eliot Kennedy added: “Everybody has been so complimentary about this fantastic show. It’s been too long that these women have been unrecognised. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

“The Women Of Steel song went down so well we’re going to use it, probably around Mother’s Day next year, to help get the final money in.”

DONATE: Make a donation to the staue appeal now at www.justgiving.com/womenofsteel.

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