The 18th anniversary of Moules a Go-Go in Chester and the production of the first ‘alternative’ Women’s Institute calendar in 1999 seemed reason enough for family restaurant owner Sheila Callaghan to host a party.
To mark the occasion of both events, Sheila organised a Calendar Girls fundraiser in support of the Chester city centre restaurant’s nominated charity Bloodwise Leukemia Cancer Research.
The story of the Calendar Girls became well known at the same time Moules a Go-Go opened and it later went on to be made into a hit movie. More recently the story has been adapted into a West End theatre production The Girls with music by Gary Barlow.
Sheila thought it would be a good idea to call upon local business ladies as well as restaurant regulars to come together in the spirit of the WI for a double celebration lunch.
A sumptuous three course menu, unlimited supply of prosecco and “considerably bigger buns” ensured the afternoon was a sell out.
The highlight of the lunch were the home made cakes produced by long standing customer at Moules a Go-Go Agnes Brennan and owner of Grosvenor Guest House opposite the restaurant Paula Skeoch who also gave a raffle prize of an overnight stay with breakfast.
Ursula Ryalls made the table placemats which featured the original calendar girls. “She’s 84 years young and a wiz on the computer,” said Sheila, “there’s no stopping her.”
Customers were also entertained by a carefully choreographed Laura Ashley and Burton’s fashion show which featured 60s inspired pinafores, tailored jackets and glitzy party wear.
Models (volunteers from Laura Ashley and Moules a Go-Go) with gravity defying hairstyles produced by Richard Bliss (Hinton Bliss Chester) sashayed around the tables to theme tunes from 60s TV series The Avengers, Mission Impossible and Bryan Ferry’s I’m in the mood for love. Entertainment was provided by crooner ‘Bing From Crosby’.
Local businesses including Grosvenor Hotel, Boodles, Wild Florist, Chlobo, Laura Ashley and Panama Hattys provided the prizes for the raffle including one from Tricia Stewart, one of the original Calendar Girls whose part was played by Helen Mirren.
£750 was raised for Bloodwise.
Sheila added: “When ladies come together to raise funds for charity anything is possible. It’s all about bringing everyone together.”