Original Calendar Girl Tricia Stewart on heading home to Sunderland

Original Calender Girl Tricia Stewart hosts a Gin and Jam afternoon in aid of St Benedicts Hospice
Original Calender Girl Tricia Stewart hosts a Gin and Jam afternoon in aid of St Benedicts Hospice
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The new Calendar Girls musical will make its Sunderland Empire debut next week – and for one Calendar Girl it’s a particularly special date.

Tricia Stewart is one of the original Calendar Girls from the Rylstone and District Women’s Institute in Yorkshire who rose to global fame with their risqué calendar.

Calendar Girls cast with writer Tim Firth and Gary Barlow

Calendar Girls cast with writer Tim Firth and Gary Barlow

Though she’s lived in the Yorkshire Dales for more than 45 years, Tricia was born and raised in Sunderland and started her career as a diagnostic radiographer at hospitals such as Sunderland Royal.

Her fame as one of the inspirational Calendar Girls has taken her all over the world, where she’s carved a new career as a public speaker, but she says coming back to her home city is always special.

As well as returning next week for the musical, Tricia was also back in Sunderland for a Gin and Jam fundraiser at The Looking Glass, which was held in aid of St Benedict’s Hospice.

Tricia, who gave a talk at the fundraiser, said: “I speak for a lot of hospices. They’re such an important part of the community and something everybody should support.

“If everybody donated to a hospice once a month, think what could be achieved?”

The aim of the event was to launch a new series of events called Presented by St Benedict’s Hospice, which aims to raise funds and awareness of the Ryhope facility.

Anthony McDermott, from St Benedict’s,said: “We are delighted the event was well received by all and even managed to raise more than £1,000 for the charity.

“Tricia spoke passionately about the story of the Calendar Girls as well as her Sunderland roots, and we were proud to have brought someone like Tricia back to the city.”

The Empire too holds a special place in Tricia’s heart as her mum’s family, the Hutchinsons, once had shares in the venue, which she would visit often as a child.

“I’m looking forward to going back there for Calendar Girls the musical,” she said.

“The film is great and we had such a fantastic time going to Hollywood, but a lot of things were changed for the film and I think this musical is the truest portrayal of the story so far.”

• Calendar Girls the musical is at Sunderland Empire from Tuesday, March 19, to Saturday, March 23. Tickets are available to purchase from either 0844 871 3022 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland

•Read our interview with Gary Barlow about the music he’s written for the Calendar Girls musical here.