WI dreaming of a naked Christmas

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The Independent Online
WOMEN'S INSTITUTE members who became famous after stripping off for a charity calendar unveiled their Christmas card yesterday.

The 11 women, who are pictured wearing nothing apart from pearl necklaces and Santa Claus hats, said they hope to raise more money for Leukaemia Research, building on the success of their calendar, which has already raised pounds 400,000. The millennium calendar - which features 11 members of the Rylstone and District WI in North Yorkshire, aged between 45 and 60, has sold 33,000 copies since it was launched four months ago.

A spokeswoman for the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate, where the Christmas card was being unveiled yesterday, said: "It is a group shot and they are wearing nothing but pearls, smiles and Father Christmas-type hats. It follows on from the theme of their calendar. If it follows the trend of the calendar it will be immensely popular and sell thousands."

The women gave a preview of the card to Christopher Hall, the director of the show, which begins on Tuesday.

Tricia Stewart, 50, who was the calendar's model for October, said yesterday: "The Christmas card is the December page of our calendar and features all 11 ladies in the nude. We're hoping it will raise even more for charity - and distance ourselves still further from the traditional jam and Jerusalem image."

The calendar shows the women with their modesty preserved by carefully placed limbs, flowers and utensils. It was dedicated to John Baker, a former assistant National Park officer and close friend of the branch, who died of cancer last year. His widow, Angela, appears in the calendar playing the piano. A sunflower was included in every photograph because Mr Baker had given away seeds but had not lived to see them flower.

The pictures were taken by Terry Logan, a former professional photographer and husband of one of the models.

The Rylstone WI president, 65-year-old Beryl Banforth, is shown in the calendar chairing a meeting of members wearing nothing but hats. The women have insisted that their calendar is "tasteful, not smutty".