These women have a very revealing hobby...
By day they hold down jobs in banks, offices, shops or the civil service, so why might you find their charity exploits rather, er, surprising? Jane Hardy reports
The Victorians did saucy as well as modesty, covering their piano legs while relishing postcards of women clad in not very much. And since a small branch of the WI in Grassington, Yorkshire, opted for something slightly different for their 1999 fundraising Christmas calendar, in memory of the husband of one of their members who died of leukaemia, a flash of flesh has become de rigueur in charity calendars.
Now a group of young fundraisers for Action Cancer will be raising the odd eyebrow as well as a lot of money for a very good cause this December.
As Erin Forsyth (25), Miss July, reveals, the idea for a naughty but nice calendar came to her one day out of the blue.
“My brother Chris has done a few treks for Action Cancer and I decided one day it would be fun to do something different for the charity,” she says with a giggle before turning serious as she recounts the toll this disease has taken among her social circle.
“My mum’s best friend, Julie, passed away 10 years ago. More recently, the mum of my friends Rachel and Jennifer died of pancreatic cancer.”
The charity has a recent tradition of nude male calendars but Erin says she’s proud to be part of the first all-female calendar. “It’s something different. Normally you get calendars with dogs and cats on but this year it will be us. There will be two calendars, a boys’ and a girls’.”
This woman, who spends the working week as a payroll administrator for Grafton Recruitment, says she and her fellow models didn’t need any Dutch courage, unlike the women in Calendar Girls.
“We didn’t need a drink but we had tea and nibbles at my house before the shoot, and had our hair and make-up done there too by Ashley (Miss October) and my best friend, Debbie Corbett.”
Then it was down to business. Some models had more cover than others, Erin says. “I was doing July and chose an American theme. I had a big flag tied round me, plus a large hat. One of the girls just had cupcakes in the relevant places. Some were definitely more revealing than others!”
One of Erin’s friends, Ashleigh, actually posed while pregnant, channelling Demi Moore’s famous Vanity Fair cover, but with her modesty pretty much maintained thanks to a well positioned fan.
The charitable habit is catching and Erin says she’s signed on as one of Santa’s elves at the Hillmount nursery during the Christmas season to raise money for the NI Cancer Fund for Children.
“It’ll be fun, but I must also mention my parents, Karen and David, who were very supportive.”
The people who photographed and designed the calendar — Ramsey Cardy and Neil Shearer and Phil Boyd from Boyd Communications — gave their services free. The print run is 400 copies.
Hurry, hurry, as they say, this is one calendar that won’t be remaindered by January.
To buy your copy for £5, contact email@example.com
Kerrie: Miss March
Kerrie Kennedy (23) lives in Belfast, is deputy manager of the Early Years centre in east Belfast, and is engaged to Andrew Briggs. She says:
I did it because it’s for such a good cause and because my family has been affected by cancer. My uncle Davy died when I was 10 and I remember the awful effect on my three cousins. He was only in his forties and we were told, ‘Your uncle’s very sick’, then we got the news he’d died.
At the funeral, my mum told me to look out for my cousins, who are now 25, 23 and 20. They were so upset and my job was to be the upbeat one.
One of the girls, Ruth Moreland, got married recently and was distraught that her dad couldn’t walk her down the aisle. The effects of this terrible disease go on, even though Davy has been gone a long time.
We also lost my grandad and my granny, dad’s mum to cancer. She died 20 years ago and my other granny, Joan, got breast cancer five years ago but happily she’s in the clear. It’s so important to keep raising funds for research and screening.
I didn’t hesitate when asked to pose nude and it was all okay until the day itself. But the shoot took around 10-15 minutes and was fine. I had an Easter theme, and was surrounded by Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies.
When I told my fiance I was posing nude for a calendar, he said, What? When I added it was for Action Cancer, he said, ‘Fine, go for it’.” .
Ashleigh: Miss June
Ashleigh Moore (29) is a civil servant who lives in Ballygowan with husband Colin and their son Lewis (3). She’s |expecting her second child in January. She says:
I was six months’ pregnant when I did the Action Cancer calendar. The reason I did it was to support Erin and her brother Chris who are family friends.
We really admire what he’s done for the charity and I was happy to do anything I could.
My husband Colin was happy for me to do the nearly nude pose, but when we suggested he do the boys’ calendar, it was a different story.
I was happy enough posing for Miss June. I knew it would be tasteful.
I guess I was slightly thinking of the Demi Moore image, and I wanted to show my bump so it was obvious I was pregnant, and not just carrying some extra pounds.
We kept on our knickers so we didn’t feel we had to cover everything, just the top half. I had a big fan but everybody had different props. I am very pleased with the result.”
Jane: Miss August
Jane Dunbar (24, below) is a health and safety officer and lives in Antrim with her husband Andrew. She says:
My husband is in the boys’ Action Cancer calendar so it’s a family affair. Of course the girls’ calendar is better. I posed with EL James’ book Fifty Shades of Grey, the summer reading for me and my mum. I have read the novel and found it very detailed, definitely a good, rather naughty read. There is a special reason I wanted to pose for this calendar. We lost my auntie two years ago, she was only 34 and developed stomach cancer. Honestly, every time you turn round, you hear of someone else with this disease. We do quite a lot of fundraising and at Halloween had a Stand Up To Cancer party.
Erin is a friend so Andrew and I thought we’d join in. He’s the man posing with the big golf bag. My sister-in-law, Emma Hutton, also posed. I have had a bit of ribbing, but it’s worth it.”
Emma: Miss May
Emma Hutton (28) is a bank official who lives in Newtownards with her husband Ian. She says:
I wanted to do this as Action Cancer is a cause that’s close to my heart. My grandfather James, known as Jim, had prostate cancer and although I didn’t really know him, he’d suffered from the disease for about 10 years before he passed away.
I’ve friends who do a lot for Marie Curie, another great charity, and my mate Cathy works in the Marie Curie Hospice.
Because so many people in our circle have suffered from cancer — my cousin’s grandfather and another cousin’s father-in-law passed away with cancer — it seemed important to do it. After all, cancer is like an epidemic these days.
I posed in my riding jacket, boots and whip — a bit Soho — and got roped into this shoot at the last minute.
My courage from the night before disappeared. I was very nervous, as it’s something I hadn’t done before. But afterwards, I felt, ‘we’ve done this’. It gave me confidence and I’m really pleased with the result.
The funny thing is that I’m Miss May and my dad turns 60 in May, so the joke is that this is something he’ll definitely remember!”
Shannon: Miss April
Shannon Wilson (19) is studying biomedical engineering at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, and lives with her parents in Portavogie. She says:
It was a different experience, interesting, and when Erin mentioned the calendar, I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s a really good thing. Cancer touches so many people and my grandad Alec has had prostate cancer for years. Happily, it’s under control.
When we had to get our clothes off I did think, ‘Why did I agree to this? But in the end it was fun and a really good laugh. I posed with cupcakes and had two of them strategically placed. They weren’t that large, but they did the job. In the end I was in three of the shots as Miss April, then in the group shots for September and December.
My boyfriend Jason was really supportive. I just told my parents I was doing a shoot for Action Cancer, not what kind of shoot. I’m not even sure whether they know now.”
Bare facts about calendars
- The first charity calendar was produced by Grassington WI in memory of John Baker, the husband of one of their members, Chris. He died of leukaemia in 1998. They raised funds for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. The women became celebrities, and appeared on the Jay Leno show in America.
- Since then, ‘nude’ charity calendars have become an institution and this year’s crop include calendars produced by Royal Marine WAGs to raise money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Foundation and Trinity College students who are raising cash for their Cancer Society.
- The Action Cancer male nude calendar tradition started a few years ago. This is the first Action Cancer nude female calendar and will raise funds for the charity’s breast screening programme for women here outside the NHS age range, ie, from 40 to 49 and over 70. For further info, tel:028 9080 3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.