I had a lovely afternoon with my Women’s Institute last week when we held an afternoon tea to help one of our members raise money for Bloodwise, the charity for blood-borne cancers. It’s the charity the ‘Calendar Girls’ raise so much money for and two of the original Calendar Girls came to support us.
Those of you abroad may not have heard of ‘The Calendar Girls’…
Rhylstone is a sleepy little picturesque village not too far from here,further up Wharfedale. Eighteen years ago some of the ladies of the local WI decided to try raise money to replace the uncomfortable settee in the visitors room of the cancer unit at the local hospital. Angela’s husband was fighting leukaemia and she spent a lot of time on said settee. They decided to make a calendar, only it wasn’t pretty local scenes…
…it was a nude calendar! Nowadays such calendars are ten-a-penny, every local rugby team, firefighters etc does calendars, but Rhylstone WI were the first! It was all very tastefully done with ‘no nipples or front bottoms’!! They were photographed doing WI activities such as baking, jam-making, flower arranging, they just happened to be naked! That takes some guts! They thought they might sell 250 if they were lucky…it hit the national press and the sales went crazy! It’s a wonderful calendar as they are just normal, mature ladies, all shapes and sizes, beautifully photographed. It completely changed peoples perceptions of ladies of the WI!!
Their story was made into a brilliant film in 2003 with Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, a stage production and most recently a musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth. I went to see it last year and it was wonderful, I laughed and cried all the way through, if you get a chance, go and see it!
Anyway, back to Thursday, one of our members wanted to raise money for Bloodwise so we held a vintage tea party, called Tea with the Girls. We decorated the village hall with bunting, vintage embroidered tablecloths and napkins, flowers on the table, the table groaned with home-made cakes and we served tea and cake in china cups and saucers with pretty tea pots and milk jugs.
Lots of ladies from local WI’s came, with their families and friends, together with ladies from the surrounding villages. We also had two special guests, Angela and Chris who were two of the original Calendar Girls. It was wonderful to have time to sit and chat with them.
Another WI in Swindon called Old Town Belles have made a photobooth with applique, I first saw it at the Tea and Tents weekend last year so we hired it, it has a quote at the top from the movie ‘we’re going to need considerably bigger buns!’ We had lots of fun with that.
There was a lovely atmosphere, the hall was buzzing, everyone laughing and chatting, even better, £630 was raised for Bloodwise 🙂