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They got their kit off – so you get your cash out

Posted on 14 May 2009 | 7:05am

(… and if you read to the end, you might win something)

So come on,
be honest, how many of you have changed your charitable giving habits since the
recession began?

Judging by the waves of people rushing past the tin-rattlers I saw at Euston
yesterday, plenty of you. We hear lots of business people saying times are
hard, and the same goes for good causes.

I’ve mentioned before the plan to get fifty individuals or businesses to give
fifty grand each to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Leukaemia

People I would have half guaranteed as likely donors to such a scheme
a couple of years ago are now taking a little longer to think about it. And
it’s easy to understand why with all the other economic and financial concerns
they face.

But the harsh reality is that if charities like Leukaemia Research lose
income, then that poses a threat to the amazing work they have done and
continue to do to improve survival chances  

So we need to continue raising money in any way we can. And if you cannot
afford fifty thousand pounds, maybe this one is more up your street. A ten quid
calendar. Yes, the girls  have
stripped off again, a decade more mature than the last time – examples can be
seen on my Flickr page here and here. Just as tasteful and wholesome.
And how about a 12 or 14 pound ticket to see me in conversation with the original
Calendar Girls before watching the show their fund-raising heroics inspired.

To recap – it was the tragic loss of her husband John from non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma, which inspired Angela Baker and her friends from the Rylstone WI to
make the first ‘naked’ calendar in aid of Leukaemia Research. There have been
plenty of imitations, but these ladies are the trailblazers.

Their story having been made into a film, now it is a stage show which has
played to full houses
up and down the country, and is currently on at the Noël
Coward Theatre in London’s West End. 

Angela Baker has seen the show six times since it opened in Chichester last
September. “Sometimes when I watch it I have to pinch myself to remember that’s
my story,” she says. “I feel so many emotions, it’s hard to explain.”

Angela and her friends launched the original calendar 10 years ago in the hope
of raising enough money to buy a sofa for the local hospital where John was
treated. To date, the Calendar Girls have raised nearly £2 million for Leukaemia

“The show makes you cry one minute and laugh the next, and
that’s what it was like all along,” says Angela. “There’s a line where Patricia
Hodge who plays me says ‘I’m a celebrity widow’ – and that’s what I was made
into. John did know about the calendar and he said we were all talk but I know
he would have loved every bit of it.

“We were doing it for him and
others who go through the same thing. The actresses are wonderful; I think they
feel it in their hearts and that’s why the Calendar Girls show is such a

My night on stage with the Calendar Girls as a warm-up act for the show is
June 10, with all proceeds to the charity. Tickets cost £12-£44 each from the
Noël Coward Theatre on 0844 482 5140.

For more info, or to buy a calendar or make
a donation visit or call 0207 405 0101.

I will buy four tickets myself – and give two pairs to what I consider to be
the best comments here or on my Facebook or Twitter pages. My judgement shall
be utterly subjective and beyond question or appeal. Obviously.

  • Clare Jenkins

    Thanks for supporting this and thank you also to the fabulouw women who have made this calandar. Nice to see that we mature women are not past it.

  • Alina Palimaru

    First of all, I should mention that I cannot be considered for your competition, since I know I cannot come. Now moving on, I applaud your efforts. As I posted in your previous blog about leukaemia, I think organizations like this one fill in a huge gap created by rapacious pharmaceutical companies that refuse to invest in R&D for products that, based on their projections, may not be profitable (at least not in the short run). Often times, the lure of profit makes these firms disregard the fact that the market value of Leukaemia treatment as only a fraction of its social value. This is why we have twenty brands of Arthritis medication, which can be sold lucratively to wealthy client segments.

    So keep up the wonderful work in this area and good luck to the rest of the participants!

  • Sally Wilson

    I saw you film on how the charity started, all from the death of one girl. Her family can never have imagined where it would all lead, and the same goes for the Calendar Girls. They probably did think they would raise enough for a sofa – now look where it has led. Fantastic, and as you say, great for the charity in difficult times

  • Paul Marshall

    How about filling the place with MPs who hand over ten per cent of their expenses claims?

  • Alan Quinn

    Ally, I think it’s just a fact of life that in a recession money is short and it seems to be the same old faces doing more and more good work. Most people like yourself get involved because of personal circumstance. With me it was the arrival 15 yrs ago of a Down’s Syndrome daughter with a congenital heart condition (don’t feel sorry for me as now she’s just as much as a pain in the arse as the other three).
    I think the answer is to be different as in the calender, comic relief, and children in need where OK you donate but you get a bit back in return.
    Yesterday we raised over a grand here at work by selling bedding plants for our partner charity Sue Ryder Care.

  • Kenny Hemphill

    Excellent point about the effect the recession is having on charities. Many of them have seen a significant drop in donations at a time when they need more money, not less.

    Can I make a pitch for Payroll Giving? I’ve been using it to donate for a couple of years now and it really is an excellent scheme. From the individual’s point of view, having money deducted at source means that after a month or two you don’t miss it and from the charity’s viewpoint means that they receive a regular income stream and don’t have to go through the bureaucracy of reclaiming tax through Gift Aid.

    Finally, we’re not all worse off in this recession, some of us who have been fortunate enough to benefit from the dramatic fall in interest rates and seen our tracker mortgages become significantly less expensive are better off. What better way to share that good fortune than passing some of it to a local charity? They could really do with your help.

  • gary Enefer

    Dear AC

    Good work. I pay for a dolphin £4pm, £4pm autism and Prison Phoenix Trust (£50 pa)that has Yoga 90 Yoga teachers in our prisons helping inmates and staff. I am a white male Church of England but I saw a programme about Islam where it is ingrained in a Muslim’s daily life/ practices to help charity.I was proud to see this of our British Muslims.

    On another point – sort of connected to your excellent work on ‘cracking up’,I am very concnered for Phil Hope’s welfare. I think his knee jerk to offering to pay back £41000 reaction hides displays depression and anxiety.
    His manner on TV has worried me and I wonder if you or the party can find someone to keep an eye on him and be there for him? oK,he has made a mistake but he looks very shaken up.The worst thing he can feel is depressed and not get help.His family may not see the signs or know what to do and they may add to his dark thoughts – I have been there.

  • Emma

    I wondered the other night why these MPs are giving money back rather than saying “OK, it’s going to so-and-so charity in my constituency”.

    Oxfam twittered for a whole day last week on what the recession means in terms of reduced donations.

    When people do give, it’s generous. My dad dropped dead 18 months ago. Aorta aneurysm of the aorta. 15 by 13 by 7 cm is a postmortem statistic which will stay with me for ever. Two months after he died a screening programme was announced for the most vulnerable – men over 65. It could save 700 lives a year. We asked for donations to the British Heart Foundation and Save the Children. More than £1500. Just wonderful.

    My grandmother died a month after my dad. I’ve been fortunate enough to inherit a very small sum of money.

    Your blog post has prompted me to finally get round to sending money to a charity project a former colleague set up.

    Oh, and you want £50 Leukaemia Research? I’m doing that this afternoon, too.

  • VH

    I think you should do a naked calendar, AC… I’d definitely buy it!

  • Emma

    I don’t wish to appear a blog stalker… and I start this by saying I would love to be available on June 10th, but I’m not.

    But I’ve just spoken to my mum and told her about this blog post. She’s corrected me… more than £2500 was given in my dad’s memory and said it was humbling people dug so deep.

    I also did a bit of viral marketing… she’s in the WI, so I encouraged her to book a group trip to the theatre on 10th June.

    As they say, great things happen when people come together.

  • CPW

    I’m running a competition, too. The next person who asks AC to pose in his birthday suit gets the ‘Bored housewife of the week’ award. Prize consists of a year’s subscription to Good Housekeeping, two bottles of cheap gin and a much needed sense of perspective. Good luck, ladies.

  • Mike Barlow

    The stark reality that is poverty means that a lot of people simply have nothing to give, fiscally that is, but they retain the desire to do so.

    I’ve found, in charitable collecting times gone by, that the poorest areas are often the ones who give the most…..for those on 70 GBP per week benefits, one pound is a needed pound, after all.

    Conversely, I have collected in highly affluent areas and it was easier trying to make diamonds with coal…

    Why not make it easy for anyone, rich or poor, to donate small amounts of money? Micro-payments via the ‘net or via the Post Office for those without bank accounts/debit cards….let’s force the banks to make good their mistakes by overhauling their nefarious charges and %’s on what is, after all, nothing major technically, they do it already but limit the minimums involved by way of greedy commissions…I know they won’t like doing it, but by jove, they’ve had enough of our money, in handouts, after all.

    Which leads me to say….if we can give, as a nation, 30 Billion quid + to over-rich banks who dole it out as bonuses, why can’t we give one billion away to needy charities on a non-repayable loan basis?

    If I had tickets…I’d give them, and some grub and warm drinks, to any of the homeless outside the venue.