By Hannah Ingram
Fourteen brave women turned sadness to celebration in Bury as their charity ‘Calendar Girls’ calendar was launched in memory of their friend on Friday night.
Marilyn Brown, affectionately known as ‘Maz’, died in April this year after being diagnosed with cancer at The Christie Hospital in January.
Bar manageress of the Help Me Thro’ pub on Crostons Road, 43-year-old Tina Thomas, held the launch and created the calendar idea to raise money for the hospital.
Over £900 was raised on the night, coming from donations and auctions, with 200 calendars being sold over the weekend.
“Maz was a very special person who deserves to be remembered,” said Tina. “We wanted to do something fun to show how much we cared for her, as she had an amazing personality and was always smiling.”
Tina is one half of Miss June in the calendar which features women of varying ages shedding their clothes with their modesty preserved.
All the ladies have one thing in common – they are all regulars of the pub where Marilyn would often help out her son, 32-year-old Christopher Brown, the licensee.
He said: “It’s hard now and I still miss her, but I’ve got to carry on – she’d want me to.
“I honestly believe she’s looking down on me, I didn’t used to believe it, but until it happens, you won’t.
“I take my hat off to the women who made the calendar, as I’d never have been able to do it!”
The pub appears as a community in the calendar as each photograph is taken in and around the venue.
The second half of Miss June, 40-year-old Jackie Mellor, said: “We know Maz loved the idea and would have thoroughly enjoyed the outcome – that being a community having a good time for a good cause.
“One thought is that if we could go back a year, I wish we never had the need to do the calendar.”
“I had the opportunity to speak to Maz about it and she thought it was a very good idea and couldn’t wait to see the photos,” added Tina. “Unfortunately she never did.”
Marilyn’s husband, Graham Brown, 64, said she knew something was wrong over Christmas and went for a diagnosis in January, which confirmed their fears.
“She looked at me and said we’d never get to spend our retirement together,” he said. “We were both retiring early to enjoy our precious time.”
“She never moaned or complained,” said Graham. “I miss her every day, but the people at the pub have been a great help.”
Marilyn’s funeral was attended by over 200 people, many of whom had to stand as seating was full.
Marilyn’s son Christopher said that the funeral was a celebration of her life, but the worst part was passing Woodbank School on Brandlesholme Road in the cortege.
“All the kids and teachers were out on the front to watch her pass,” he said. “She was a dinnerlady there for nearly 22 years and was obviously well loved.”
One half of Miss February, Melissa Todd, 29, said: “We always used to have a good gossip – she used to come outside for a cigarette and you knew it was time for a good chat.”
“It was always in the best intentions with Maz,” said 45-year-old Miss October, Kate Preston. “I’ve never known anyone who could tell me off but in a way that made me feel positive.”
“The day I got my job up here, she was gushing,” said Kate. “She was the influence behind it all that made me think I could do it.”
Miss April, Pauline Pullan, 63, said: “She didn’t want to be a burden or lose her dignity in any way – she was such a positive person who we all miss.”
Calendars are available at http://calendargirlsforchristies.blogspot.com for £6.95 including postage and packaging.