The Caravan Girls – a group of friends who all holiday at Flintshire’s Tree Tops Caravan Park – have stripped off for a cheeky calendar which will be sold to raise funds for Breast Cancer Care.
The idea came from Tree Toppers Rachel Anchors & Wendy Wild who soon persuaded their fellow caravanners to take the plunge.
But agreeing to be part of the calendar was only part of the challenge for the friends who are in their 30s through to their 70s.
Rachel, 46, has been at Tree Tops, near Holywell, for four years and said:
“My friend Wendy and I came up with the madcap idea one afternoon. Persuading other caravanners to take part was one thing but staging the photos, deciding where to take them, exploring the props to use and, more importantly, finding someone we trusted to take them, was quite another. Agreeing to take your clothes off, even for a good cause, is brave but it requires a greater level of bravery to actually do it.”
The group turned to Andrew Walker who runs Tree Tops alongside parents Maureen and Harry. A keen amateur photographer, Andrew offered to support the project, taking all of the pictures and agreeing to meet some of the printing costs.
Over the last few months, the group – some of whom are breast cancer survivors themselves or who have had family members face difficult health issues – have worked tirelessly to capture the perfect shot.
“Given we’re a caravan park with lots of different people staying with us, we’ve really had to think about how we approach this. We’ve had to be mindful of how and when we took the photos, aware of making those taking part comfortable, and finding props for pictures that best reflect the caravan girls’ personalities.
“There has been endless patience but a lot of laughs and joy through the whole process. What we have is a calendar of pictures which reflect the fun of both the women and caravan life – the calendar girls have most definitely put the perky in our park,” said Andrew.
From tractors to strategically placed balls of wool, the photos offer a snapshot into life at Tree Tops and a glimpse into the lives of the people who stay there.
Rachel added: “We’ve bared all during this process – physically and metaphorically, wobbly bits and all. Stripping off isn’t always comfortable but we found a way of doing it that worked for us and Andy was great at making us feel at ease and took endless test shots, so we were happy and comfortable.
“We’ve all had personal reasons for wanting to be part of this and, as friends, we’ve also been able to share our stories, learn more about each other and have fun along the way. It’s made us closer but, more importantly, it’s about raising funds for Breast Cancer Care.”
75-year-old Vera Jones from Stockport is one of the oldest Calendar Girls and sadly lost her brother to cancer. “As soon as I heard about the calendar I knew I had to take part to do my bit for everyone who has gone through cancer,” she said.
Stockport’s Marie Horgan, 61, is a mum-of-three, grandmother-of-five, and was persuaded to take part in the calendar by her daughter.
“I’m so glad she did,” said Marie. “It’s been a fantastic way to meet some amazing women and an opportunity to do something positive for a good cause.”
Stockport’s Chris Lawton, 59, is Miss March and decided to tackle the calendar as she likes a challenge. She said, “Apart from meeting and making friends with some fabulous ladies, I have gained confidence in how I look and my ability to deal with a unique situation such as getting naked for a photo!”
Rachel Anchors, a 46-year-old from Alsager, Cheshire said: “My reason for wanting to do this is in memory of my dad who I lost suddenly to cancer last year. I’ve got so much from this project and can’t thank Tree Tops, Andrew, and all the girls for making our vision become a reality.”
Ally Benson Smith, 51, lives on the outskirts of Preston, Lancashire, and only came to Tree Tops in July. “I knew absolutely no-one when I put myself forward for the calendar. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Due to family illness, the first six months of 2018 was very challenging for us as a family and I feel that I reclaimed my joie de vivre by taking part,” she said.
June Smith, a 69-year-old from Macclesfield, said she had enjoyed making new friends and added: “I hope we have achieved our goal of making as much money as possible for this wonderful charity.”
Wendy Wild, 49, from Stoke on Trent, said she didn’t have to think twice about doing the calendar.
“It was a no-brainer for me as I’m a breast cancer survivor. I’ve had the best time doing this, lots of laughs, and made some great new friends,” she said.
56-year-old Kathy Knowles from Wigan volunteers at Wigan & Leigh Hospice Charity shop, Ashton in Makerfield. She said: “I absolutely loved doing this calendar and meeting some gorgeous, friendly ladies. It has given me a buzz, lots more confidence and will hopefully make money for charity.”
Sarah Mansfield, 31, is from Glossop, Derbyshire. She said it was a privilege to have been asked to join the Calendar Girls. She added: “I have done something that I would never have thought I could be comfortable with, but I did it!”
Grandmother of six, Carol Jones, 56, from Manchester, said: “I have lost family members young and old with cancer, so I wanted to help others to raise money for this horrible disease.”
Victoria Blackburn, 44, hails from Widnes and took part in the calendar in tribute to her mum who she lost to breast cancer. “Losing my mum has left a massive void in my heart. So, with that in mind, I felt I had to do this in memory of her and anybody else who is going through treatment.”
At the time of writing, they have already beaten their £1,000 JustGiving target. Those wishing to donate to this fantastic cause can do so here.
Calendars can be purchased from their Facebook Page here.