(… and if you read to the end, you might win something)

So come on,
be honest, how many of you have changed your charitable giving habits since the
recession began?

Judging by the waves of people rushing past the tin-rattlers I saw at Euston
yesterday, plenty of you. We hear lots of business people saying times are
hard, and the same goes for good causes.

I’ve mentioned before the plan to get fifty individuals or businesses to give
fifty grand each to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Leukaemia

People I would have half guaranteed as likely donors to such a scheme
a couple of years ago are now taking a little longer to think about it. And
it’s easy to understand why with all the other economic and financial concerns
they face.

But the harsh reality is that if charities like Leukaemia Research lose
income, then that poses a threat to the amazing work they have done and
continue to do to improve survival chances  

So we need to continue raising money in any way we can. And if you cannot
afford fifty thousand pounds, maybe this one is more up your street. A ten quid
calendar. Yes, the girls  have
stripped off again, a decade more mature than the last time – examples can be
seen on my Flickr page here and here. Just as tasteful and wholesome.
And how about a 12 or 14 pound ticket to see me in conversation with the original
Calendar Girls before watching the show their fund-raising heroics inspired.

To recap – it was the tragic loss of her husband John from non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma, which inspired Angela Baker and her friends from the Rylstone WI to
make the first ‘naked’ calendar in aid of Leukaemia Research. There have been
plenty of imitations, but these ladies are the trailblazers.

Their story having been made into a film, now it is a stage show which has
played to full houses
up and down the country, and is currently on at the Noël
Coward Theatre in London’s West End. 

Angela Baker has seen the show six times since it opened in Chichester last
September. “Sometimes when I watch it I have to pinch myself to remember that’s
my story,” she says. “I feel so many emotions, it’s hard to explain.”

Angela and her friends launched the original calendar 10 years ago in the hope
of raising enough money to buy a sofa for the local hospital where John was
treated. To date, the Calendar Girls have raised nearly £2 million for Leukaemia

“The show makes you cry one minute and laugh the next, and
that’s what it was like all along,” says Angela. “There’s a line where Patricia
Hodge who plays me says ‘I’m a celebrity widow’ – and that’s what I was made
into. John did know about the calendar and he said we were all talk but I know
he would have loved every bit of it.

“We were doing it for him and
others who go through the same thing. The actresses are wonderful; I think they
feel it in their hearts and that’s why the Calendar Girls show is such a

My night on stage with the Calendar Girls as a warm-up act for the show is
June 10, with all proceeds to the charity. Tickets cost £12-£44 each from the
Noël Coward Theatre on 0844 482 5140.

For more info, or to buy a calendar or make
a donation visit lrf.org.uk or call 0207 405 0101.

I will buy four tickets myself – and give two pairs to what I consider to be
the best comments here or on my Facebook or Twitter pages. My judgement shall
be utterly subjective and beyond question or appeal. Obviously.