Sisters made of steel

AS rich as the seam of iron ore running though the Cleveland Hills, an iron will runs through the blood of sisters Anna Kennedy and Maria Davison.

Anna, pictured (right) with her sibling above, set up a school for children with autism after her own sons Patrick and Angelo were turned away from mainstream education. She has gone on to launch a second school, college, a respite home and a website with more than 50,000 followers worldwide. And she’s been made an OBE, received an honorary degree from Teesside University and starred in the first People’s Strictly for Comic Relief. All on just a few hours sleep each night.

She is urging people to support the ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign, not just because she comes from Middlesbrough but because her sister, Maria, is one of those whose livelihoods is hanging in the balance.

Production was paused at the SSI plant in nearby Redcar on September 18 due to a global drop in the price of steel putting thousands of jobs at risk. The situation is depressingly familiar to many families in the area which was hit by high unemployment when the steelworks were a casualty of the recession in the 1980s.

This month’s salary was paid to employees on Friday but the next announcement due on Wednesday,  pivotally on the last day of the month, is expected to indicate whether its flame will be extinguished once and for all.

In the past SSI has raised money for the charity Anna Kennedy Online which  promotes the inclusion and equality of children and adults on the autism spectrum throughout society. Maria was supporting her sister this weekend at the first Autism’s Got Talent show held in the North-East at Teesside University with autism charity Daisy Chain, which was a huge success.

As she runs the emergency services department at SSI, Maria will be there until the very end. “We have seen contractors leave, there are lots of rumours and people are saying “when will it be me?”. There are many husbands and wives working there and we are all being kept in the dark.”

“If it shuts it will destroy the community, there are a lot of small shops around the plant where people go for their lunch and they won’t survive either. What has happened is soul destroying.”

A Save Our Steel rally organised by Redcar MP Anna Turley and Paul Warren, Community Rep and Chairman of the Multi-Union at SSI, attracted more than 2,000 supporters and the Boro squad will wear ‘Save Our Steel’ t-shirts to warm up at the Riverside tomorrow (Sunday).

To support the Save Our Steel campaign visit




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