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29 December 2019 02:42

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Calendar Girl Angela is made an MBE in Queen's New Year honours

Image caption Angela Knowles said she could not believe how much the calendar had made over the years The woman behind a nude calendar which raised millions for charity has been appointed MBE in the New Year Honours. Angela Knowles, 74, from Linton in Craven, near Skipton, Yorkshire, and 10 Women's Institute friends posed for the calendar in 1999 to raise £5,000 for charity. It went on to raise almost £6m and inspire the Calendar Girls film. Mrs Knowles said she believed the honour was recognition for all the women who took part in the calendar. It's not just for me it's for all of the calendar girls and our photographer, she said.

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"We've been a great team for over 20 years," she said. Image copyright PA Image caption The original calendar featured 11 members of the Rylstone WI The women were all members of Rylstone and District WI in the Yorkshire Dales. They had been inspired to raise funds after the death of Mrs Knowles' husband, John Baker, from non-Hodgkin lymphona in 1998. The story of their alternative WI calendar went on to to inspire a popular film and stage show and numerous imitations. Mrs Knowles donated all the money raised, including the rights to her story, to Bloodwise.

Send your story ideas to [email protected] CALENDAR Girl Angela Knowles whose first husband inspired the original version of the famous Pirelli-style calendar depicting semi-naked members of Rylstone and District WI, has been made an MBE in the Queen's New Year's honours. Mrs Knowles, from Linton, was part of an original 11-strong line-up of women who brought out the alternative calendar for the start of the millennium to raise money for leukaemia research - now called Bloodwise. It was inspired by her first husband, John Baker, who was suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In a stroke of genius, fellow WI member Tricia Stewart suggested the alternative calender to raise money for research. Mrs Knowles, 74, said: "I was truly surprised when I opened the envelope announcing the award. "My family was delighted and so were the other Calendar Girls when I told them. There has been a film (Calendar Girls, made by Bueno Vista), a musical and stage play." Mrs Knowles worked alongside Gary Barlow and Tim Firth to turn the story into the hit West End musical: 'Calendar Girls: The Musical'. She added: "There is talk of the musical being taken to America next year. The story of the Calendar Girls has been well documented. To date the money raised is upwards of £6 million. Mrs Knowles was a trustee of Bloodwise from 2006 to 2013 and is now honorary president. A 20th anniversary calendar which was rumoured may have been on the cards for the coming year did not materialise. Asked about a future follow-up, Mrs Knowles said: "You never know." A North Yorkshire woman who became globally famous as one of the Calendar Girls has been honoured for raising £6m for blood cancer research. After her husband John was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Angela Knowles joined up with friends from the Women's Institute to pose for a naked calendar to raise money for Bloodwise, a charity that funds research for blood cancers. Also in news: Meet the Yorkshire woman who creates amazing miniature worlds Intending only to make a few thousand pounds, they printed 1,000 calendars to sell for £5 each, featuring Mrs Knowles at a piano as Miss February. However, the women were amazed after the calendar captured imaginations, eventually selling 88,000 copies and being featured in a film starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, and a musical, written by Take That star Gary Barlow. The film grossed $100m and the musical, which was a fixture of the West End in 2017 and toured the UK last year, became the most successful UK touring stageplay ever. "We would have been happy to have made £1,000," said the 74-year-old, who served as a trustee for Bloodwise for seven years and is now honorary president. Also in news: Father of young Yorkshire man missing for 12 years describes 'endless torture' over disappearance Blood cancer research has made enormous strides in the last two decades, partly as a result of the money raised directly and indirectly by Mrs Knowles and the Calender Girls. The Skipton woman said she has been lucky to have had an international impact through her work and her story. I never thought I'd receive this honour in a million years. Mrs Knowles, 74, who has honorary doctorates from Bradford and Sheffield universities, hopes the Calendar Girls play will tour America.

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