Last May all nurses and instructors met to have our bi-annual meeting, I had put on the agenda ‘fundraising’, I wanted to discuss possible ways we could help give back to Upbeat. Yvonne was quick to remark jokily why not produce a charity calendar in the theme of Calendar Girls? Much laughter, a few looks of horror it was soon decided that at least we would pursue the idea further.
Yvonne and I agreed to lead the fundraising activity. Yvonne was in charge of finding out print costs, I was in charge of finding a photographer and funding to help support the idea.
I wrote to various agencies and Jill was very proactive, asking for donations at the exercise sessions. We received much generosity and became very excited that this idea could become reality, though I think some was hoping the idea was a distant memory. Yvonne and I were clear on how we wanted the calendar to look but sitting down looking through various print companies brochures we soon realised we may not have the funds to secure our dream until……by chance we were referred to a print company Premier Print. One afternoon after Upbeat I arrived at Yvonne’s for a meeting with Spencer, Director of the company. We made our wishes clear and after fully explaining the content of the calendar, semi naked instructors and nurses (at this point Yvonne clearly pointed out not top shelf material!) Our wishes came true. We received a quote within our budget. Yvonne and I were sooo happy and then as I drove home I thought……this means I have to take my clothes off, arghhh.
When I thought more about the calendar, I wanted to offer something different and hence the idea that each month the photo will follow a healthy educational message. I emailed everyone and asked for feedback on the type of photo they were happy to pose for and the health caption they would use, Keith the photographer was happy for us to book in studio times throughout September. All was set!
Many nurses and instructors had a good idea on what they were happy to do, those that didn’t I happily gave suggestions. Martyn was the funniest, he didn’t care. I said an idea that Yvonne and I had played around with, he was like yeah that’s fine. One of the most daring poses but he was not fazed.
The nurses booked a studio time and then the night before I received a voice mail whilst I was working. I finished at 9pm returned the call to Jayne, studio was booked for 11am the following morning. The nurses had unfortunately been warned against posing semi naked, even though all photos would be tasteful and for charity, they had to act with caution and take into account their career. The photo session went ahead and some lovely photos were captured but more clothes worn than originally planned. Pressure on the fitness instructors, the members had been teased they would see the nurses and instructors as they have never seen them before, me with makeup and my hair done would be a start!
I received a phone call from the photographer who suggested a location shot so we could vary the backgrounds, pushed for time, I frantically phoned Yvonne and asked if she could investigate local hotels, gardens, manor homes where we could possibly use. Due to use by members of the public we could not be seen to be walking around semi naked, though would have been a funny sight. Yvonne then had contacts with someone who kindly had a beautiful property with spaciously private gardens.
The last Sunday in September we all gathered at the location, cars pulled up armed with props, makeup, clothes and very sheepish individuals. Thankfully the weather was lovely, we could not of wished for a better day, bright blue skies, warm (even with no clothes on). First up the group shot, some opted for the t-shirt some had their modest covered by the Upbeat banner! All went smoothly, we moved onto individual shots. As some of the nurses had already had their shots taken we let the rest of the nurses go first. The instructors playing banter with one another, especially Peter who was reluctant to expose too much. Martyn was walking around in his long towelling dressing gown, ready to bare all when his time came. Maureen had a hat and shoes ready just had to keep her dog happy, he did well, though not sure what he would of thought if he knew what type of photo he would be involved in! Martyn was up, we watched as Martyn and the photographer walked into the distance near the lake. Out of view we laughed as we knew Martyn would be bearing all, making jokes and remarks, what if the farmer is out on the tractor in the nearby field? Looking at Martyn’s photos he seemed a natural at all this naturalist activity. Maureen was superb, completely comfortable in her own skin, she walked onto the green baring all (well nearly), up and down she walked, photographer snapping away. I was called to stand by the photographer with a whistle to gain the dogs attention, they do say never to work with animals or children, Maureen had warned he maybe a little grumpy but rightly so, he was walked up and down the same stop, he was probably looking around the huge garden thinking to himself let me explore. Now Yvonne, Peter and I had been humbled by Martyn and Maureen’s ease of posing semi naked. Peter went for it and attempted poses way beyond what he originally was considering, my turn was next, I now felt I should also be brave and at the last minute changed by pose from that I had decided on some months before. Off I went, bare foot, covered by a short silky dressing gown, briefly discussed the pose, most important was the background, there it was loads of bushes. Then came the fun part, climbing through the brambles, please note bare foot, please note short silky dressing gown. My legs got scratched, my dressing gown got caught, after much ducking and diving I was secure in the bushes. Trying to take my dressing gown off without being cut by the bush or exposing everything was the next mission. Yvonne had the job of placing the apple, yes we had to make sure it was secure and then the photographer needed Yvonne to hold a light reflector so poor Yvonne had to lean over the prickly bushes as the sun beamed down on us.
Last but not least Yvonne with her chalkboard, Yvonne had a number of poses which looked great, I stood by for support as she asked me to make sure I tell her if she needed to breath in, as if!
We all chose our favourite pictures and then Yvonne and I visited the printing company to start the artwork, poor Tony, he had the job of going through the photos and zooming in to check nothing was showing that shouldn’t be! We were really happy with the final product and can’t thank enough everyone who supported us, all nurses and instructors that got involved and for all those that have brought the calendars, thank you so much.