See Sunderland city centre workers as you’ve never seen them before in Calendar Girls-style photos

Station Taxis
Station Taxis
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Meet Sunderland’s Calendar girls - and boys.

City centre workers have dared to bare in a bid to raise awareness of city centre facilities after being inspired by the arrival of Calendar Girls the Musical to Sunderland Empire this March.

Staff from Empire theatre

Staff from Empire theatre

Businesses taking centre stage include hairdressing salon Frances Marshall, Estate Agent’s Elopa, Serendipity Tea and Trinkets, Station Taxis and the Bridges shopping centres security team. They appear alongside, established family-run business, Collinson’s, Hays Travel, Keel Square, the Customer Experience team at Sunderland Empire, The Looking Glass and a spoof take on an iconic Titanic scene from the Empire Cinema.

The images will be used to produce 1000 table talker calendars which have been funded by the show’s producers and will be distributed for free to Sunderland businesses to remind Wearsiders of the great facilities available on their doorstep.

Gary Barlow who wrote the musical - about a group of WI members who stripped for charity - with Tim Firth said he was impressed with the Sunderland worker’s efforts.

The Take That star said: “It’s brilliant that the people of Sunderland have been inspired to create their own calendar, just like the ladies of the Rylstone and District WI did 20 years ago. The calendar girls effect shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.”

Frances Marshall hairdressing

Frances Marshall hairdressing

Copies of the calendar, which is part of Sunderland Business Improvement District’s #ShopSunderland initiative for 2019, will also be available to collect from the Sunderland Empire Box Office and some of the businesses who took part in the calendar from Wednesday, January 16.

Sharon Appleby, head of business operations, Sunderland’s Business Improvement District said: “We are incredibly fortunate to have such a wide range of independent businesses, retailers and services in the city centre and this is a great way of showcasing that.

“We are delighted Sunderland Empire has chosen such a fun, creative way to show its support for our Shop Sunderland initiative - it is a brilliant example of what we can achieve when we all work together.”

Claire Pickersgill, communications manager, Sunderland Empire said: “It has been fantastic to work with Sunderland BID to support their #ShopSunderland initiative further linked to the arrival of Calendar Girls the Musical. We are committed to supporting the increase of footfall into the city centre and this collaborative promotion fits intrinsically with this. We’d like to thank all businesses who got behind the calendar, we had a lot of fun making it.”

Sergio Petrucci from Elopa

Sergio Petrucci from Elopa

Natalie Bland, marketing manager, Station Taxis (Sunderland) said: “We are thrilled to be part of the calendar for the #ShopSunderland initiative inspired by Calendar Girls the Musical coming to Sunderland Empire. As a local company that has been based in Sunderland for over 110 years we pride ourselves in supporting local businesses and encouraging people to take advantage of the amazing facilities and shops we have in the city. This is a great fun way to showcase this and get everyone involved.”

Lawrence Redmond, Collinson’s Sunderland said: “I was extremely sceptical about getting involved to start with, however after having understood what the Calendar Girl concept was, I thought what have I got to lose. So for the first time ever I stripped off in our watch and clock repair shop and had the photo taken. You can find me normally fully clothed in our Collinson’s Sunderland Jewellery store on Crowtree Road, Sunderland.”

Calendar Girls the musical is at Sunderland Empire from March 19-23. Tickets from Tel. 0844 871 3022 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland

•Our entertainments editor met Gary Barlow last year to chat Calendar Girls. Find out what to expect from the musical when it makes its Sunderland debut here.

Serendipity tea and trinkets

Serendipity tea and trinkets

Empire cinema staff

Empire cinema staff

Nicola Collinson from The Looking Glass

Nicola Collinson from The Looking Glass

Lawrence Redmond at Collinson's jewellers

Lawrence Redmond at Collinson's jewellers

Bridges security staff

Bridges security staff

Tim Firth and Gary Barlow with the cast of Calendar Girls

Tim Firth and Gary Barlow with the cast of Calendar Girls