THE phenomenal fundraising story of the WI ladies who posed naked artfully with teapots, song sheets and sewing is laid bare at a new exhibition opening at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

“Twenty Years Of The Calendar Girls” features the memories and personal collections of the women involved, including photographs, posters and newspaper cuttings.

Running from today to September 30, it celebrates the achievements of the women who – after starting with the famous calendar – have gone on to help raise more than £5m for the charity, Bloodwise.

Angela Baker was Miss February in the original calendar, which came about after h her husband, John Baker, the assistant National Park Officer for the Yorkshire Dales, died after a battling with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1998..

“The Calendar Girl journey has been a roller-coaster ride," she said.

"After John died I was devastated, but my friends were determined to do the calendar and to raise money in John’s memory for research into the causes and treatments of all types of blood cancers.

“When we set out we had no idea of the success that awaited us. This exhibition shows some of the amazing events in which we have been involved.

"Out of something that was so tragic a great deal of good has come. I am sure John will be really pleased that we had our photographs take.”

Miss October, Tricia Stewart, said: " Long before John was ill, we were at a meeting and asked if we had a photo to submit which could possibly be chosen for the next year’s calendar. I turned to Ange and suggested we do an alternative WI calendar, featuring the crafts of WI but in the nude. Ange laughed and said ‘as if’. The idea was a joke for a couple of years. After John was diagnosed, the idea of a calendar returned. We told him about it and he thought it was very funny but said we would never do it."

The original Miss September Christine Clancy, said: “On the evening I was to have my photographs taken, I was absolutely terrified.

“Over the years we have done some really amazing things. We were invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace and we attended the premiere of our film, Calendar Girls. We've had a great deal of fun but we never lose sight of the reason why we started it all. It was all in memory of John Baker and to raise money for Bloodwise."