VILLAGE hall ladies have produced a naked calendar to raise funds, despite initial disapproval from some committee members.

Eleven women from Castleside, near Consett, in County Durham, stripped off and were photographed in rural locations near their home village.

Parish councillor Heather Thompson has recruited the parish clerk, the village hall secretary, the local hairdresser, the landlady of the village bed and breakfast and four governors from the local primary school.

But the idea had originally received a lukewarm reception from members of Castleside Village Hall committee who feared ‘reputations could be damaged.’

David Dixon, 70, chairman of Castleside Village Hall committee, said: "When the idea was raised initially, there were a few members who were rather circumspect.

"But having seen how the women have got together and the whole community has got into the idea, we are delighted to have their help.”

The Northern Echo:
CALENDAR GIRLS: Back row: Nicole Gilson, 37, Jaki Douglas, 44, Heather Griffiths, 44. Front row: Jan McGuigan, 57, Judith Robson, 45, Myra Griffiths, 67, Lillian Hegarty, 68. Lying down: Heather Thompson, 45

Once word of the project got out, wellwishers poured money in to cover the publishing costs and local photographer Sarah Thew offered her services free of charge to create a series of snaps in the same vein as the original naked calendar by Rylstone WI in North Yorkshire, which went on to inspire the film Calendar Girls, starring Julie Walters.

These shots, however, are less coy, with one picture featuring a local beautician, the parish council clerk and a sales rep running naked, hand-in-hand across a cornfield.

Coun Thompson, 45, said: "The original Calendar Girls calendar is lovely, but they are hiding behind their buns.

"We are in for a penny, in for a pound and it is all out there. It is more Geordie than North Yorkshire in that respect."

The women, aged 27 to 76, are raising money for Cancer Research UK, Willow Burn Hospice as well as helping with funds for their cash-strapped village hall.

Sue Fox, from Willow Burn, said: “Only 38 percent of our funding comes from Government sources and our excellent and valued services could not continue to run without the commitment shown by individuals and groups in the local community, our fabulous Calendar Girls being one of these.”

Calendars will be available later this month priced £10 plus postage at many local retail outlets and online at