Meet Northampton's most inspiring group of women laughing in the face of breast cancer for charity calendar

Breast cancer fighters young and old have grouped together as part of charity calendar to raise money for Breast Friends Northampton.

Monday, 16th September 2019, 6:06 pm
The Chronicle & Echo got to go behind the scenes at Breast Friends Northampton penultimate shoot on Friday night at Casuals Rugby Club as the sun set.

Leonie Heard started Breast Friends Northampton after she met Clair Lineham and Jennie Legg by chance in 2017, who were all diagnosed with breast cancer within six months of each other.

The peer group not only provides emotional support for members but also promotes wellbeing and provides information in a local, inclusive and friendly environment.

Last year, group member, Mandy Orton, suggested to her friends at Breast Friends Northampton that the group should pose for a calendar shoot inspired by Calendar Girls.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Thirty-four women were involved in the 12 shoots.

The idea being that 80% of the proceeds from their calendar would be reinvested back into the group so it could become a bigger support network for more women affected by breast cancer.

On Friday night Mandy, and 33 other brave volunteers, saw the photo shoots draw to a close after eight months of hard work before their masterpiece goes on sale in October.

As the sun set at the Casuals Rugby Club at 6.30pm the women covered their modesty with rugby boots, trophies, rugby balls and cones in their penultimate shoot before topping the experience off with a bonfire scene after dark.

Mandy Orton said: "The main reason I wanted to do the calendar was to bring us all together to show others that after a cancer diagnosis life still goes on and although that journey can be really hard at times we can still have fun and enjoy life.

The rugby-inspired shoot will be the photograph of September, in line for when the season starts.

"If one person sees the calendar and has just been diagnosed with any cancer, not just breast cancer, and can see this then it’s been worth it."

All ladies involved are either going through active treatments, are recently post-treatment, had surgery and includes members living with secondary breast cancer.

She added: "It has been one of the best thing I have ever done, it's been hard work but I've really enjoyed it.

"The effect it's had on us all as been amazing. It has been so empowering and although we were nervous when we were in the moment... you forget that you're almost naked!

Sticks were used as a tool for the ladies to cover themselves in mud on the field.

"We have all laughed, cried and it has brought us all so much closer. I will never forget this and am so proud of everyone who has taken part and I am so excited to see the finished calendar. Cancer must never define us, we are all still beautiful."

Breast Friends Northampton member Jen Morgan said one of the main messages they want women to take away from the calendar is to regularly check themselves.

"I think you need to check yourself and you need to be very aware of your body," she said.

"We want to get it out there to check you boobs because we have various ages here. There’s no age limit, so please be aware.

"I think most people think that it’s a 40-plus disease and it isn’t. Ladies are here who are in their 20s."

Jo Meftah, who is also part of the calendar shoot, added: "It’s been fabulous. We’ve really enjoyed it - it’s been very empowering, emotional and fun.

"It’s been great for confidence building, who would have believed we would be doing this, you know, at the start?

"It’s brought us closer together."

The group meets at Dapper Sandwich, in Wellingborough Road in Northampton every first Wednesday of the month between 7pm and 9pm.

If you would like to buy an A3 calendar they are priced at £10 each and can be posted directly for an additional £5. To find out more, click here.