In my job as CEO, I am so lucky to meet many special people who inspire me with their courage, resilience and passion for beating blood cancer. Many are very close to my heart, how couldn’t they be? But the Calendar Girls have a very, very special place in my heart.
I joined our charity just as their first calendar was really taking off in 1999, I was a volunteer responding to all of the letters and wonderful donations that we received. If you’ve seen Tim Firth’s original play, you will remember the really emotional scene where one letter falls on the stage followed by hundreds more- it was just like that. The comfort, inspiration and hope that the girls have created for so many people and the feeling that “we can do this” in spite of so many stories of illness and tragedy, resulted in people writing to us in their thousands.
I’ve been there for the glamorous bits, like the film premier and the not so glamorous bits like a smelly cheese festival in Nantwich- (you may have guessed I don’t like dairy!). I’ve shared tears and roared with laughter with the Girls on many occasions most notably when we were creating a new shot in Lynda’s kitchen and needed bigger buns - it was a black and white photo so we used bread rolls with olives on top!
This weekend I have the absolute privilege of being with the Girls for the opening night of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s new musical The Girls. I’ve had a sneak preview at an earlier workshop so I have my tissues ready but also know that just like my experiences with the girls there are lots of hilarious moments too.
We are so grateful to Gary and Tim and the Producers David and Daffydd for giving us the opportunity to be part of the show and to raise much needed money and awareness for people affected by blood cancers. It’s hard to find the words of gratitude for the The Calendar Girls who have donated so much time energy and effort in raising the £millions that is saving the lives of people right now.
Most of all I am thinking of John Baker, the dearly loved husband of Angela who tragically died in 1998 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, who truly lives on in the legacy of the Calendar Girls I’m sure he’ll be smiling down at us on Saturday.
Don’t miss this amazing show - if you’re lucky there may be some tickets left for the Leeds and Manchester, but hurry after tomorrow I am sure that they will all be gone!
You can buy your tickets for The Girls here