A CAMPAIGN to have a memorial to steelworkers erected at the gates of the former Ravenscraig plant has received strong, cross-party political support.
The bid to create a sculpture to commemorate the hundreds of people who lost their lives in the Scottish iron and steelmaking industry is being spearheaded by the Scottish Steelworkers Memorial Fund.
The fund, co-ordinated by Lanarkshire’s civic pride campaign Supercounty, is striving to raise the necessary funds and received cross-party backing at the Scottish Parliament last week in a moving debate led by Central Scotland list MSP Clare Adamson.
Memorial Fund commitee members attended the debate and former Ravenscraig union leader Tommy Brennan, fund secretary and Supercounty director, was pleased the campaign received such a strong response.
He said: “This is a project very close to all our hearts and to receive such a positive response from our MSPs was very encouraging.
“We are a small committee who are working very hard behind the scenes to be successful in our quest to acknowledge our friends, Scotland wide, who are sadly no longer here with us. As much as it is a memorial, the sculpture will also be a positive commitment for the future too.”
Tommy said he was particularly pleased to get the support of First Minister Alex Salmond, adding: “The whole experience has given the committee a huge boost. We always knew that we were doing the right thing, but the debate, and receiving the First Minister’s backing, has given us a new lease of life.
“It is hoped that we will be in a position to launch a public fundraising campaign shortly.”
During the debate MSPs from different political parties spoke of their own and their family and constituents’ experiences of the demanding and dangerous work, the sacrifices and sometimes tragedies behind the achievements of steelworkers.
They spoke also of the impact on their communities of the closure of plants and reduced domestic production of steel.
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland, who worked in the industry for 30 years, said he hoped that the funding could be secured and welcomed discussions with sculptor Andy Scott who has designed a sculpture which would be six metres high and would depict a steelworker rising out of smoke and molten metal releasing an athlete sprinting towards the country’s future.
He added: “In that spirit, the sculpture will be more than a memorial to the past. It will also be, as it should be, a commitment to the future.”
And Ms Adamson, herself from a steelworking family, added: “Thanks to this debate I have been able to again highlight in the Parliament the huge contribution to Scottish life and history made by all those who have worked and still work in the Scottish steel industry.”