Tippy’s dales calendar will help breast cancer carers

View of Bolton Castle in Wensleydale. Photo by Anita Watson 07768 848119

By Betsy Everett

For Anita Watson, winning a photography competition with her picture of Askrigg, Wensleydale, in the mist was a boost to her confidence and an inspiration for a new venture.

“I’d made calendars for family and friends for some time, but never thought I could do it to sell, and maybe raise money for a charity. Winning the competition made me think again,” says Anita, ‘Tippy’ to her friends and colleagues.

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So it was that at the beginning of the year she set out with high hopes of capturing the essence of the dales for a 2018 calendar: not just the fields and barns and dry-stone walls, but its people and events, its oddities and idiosyncrasies.

Anita Watson, out and about with her camera.

She turned her lens to the annual spring parade of the pregnant ewes through Askrigg, and to the Flying Scotsman heading over the Ribblehead viaduct in celebration of the reopening of a section of the Settle-Carlisle line in March.

“I had an itinerary planned for the whole summer,” says Tippy, 54. Maypole and morris dancing, spring fairs and summer fetes, harvest and haymaking: all against the background of the moods and colours of the Dales landscape.

But all that had to change when, in January, she was diagnosed with a rare and particularly invasive breast cancer.

“I wanted to go ahead with the calendar because I needed to channel my energy into something positive,”she says. “But I just couldn’t do all I planned. I needed to get the calendar out quickly. So I just concentrated on getting as much variety of scenery, place, colour, texture as I could.”

The “something positive” was not just the distraction of the photography, but turning the enterprise to good use: raising money for Breast Cancer Care through which she continues to receive support.

“Like a lot of people I had thought cancer was cancer: you get it, they treat it, you recover or you don’t. But it’s more personal and complicated than that. There were more decisions to be made, more aspects to it, more individual treatments and possibilities than I could ever have imagined.”

The  breast cancer charity, set up in the early seventies, works throughout the country to give care and support to the one in eight women who will face a diagnosis of breast cancer. It depends entirely on donations, with no support from government.

Tippy is full of praise for the care she has had at Middlesbrough and Northallerton, and initially at the University Hospital Hartlepool. But she knew there would be times when her dedicated cancer nurse, or other team members, might not be instantly available to answer questions.

“Breast Cancer Care are phenomenal for telephone support. There have been occasions when I have either not known the answers, or not been able to make sense of the information, or I’ve needed clarification. All the people on the end of the ‘phone have been through it themselves. and they have a way of giving you answers without overdue regard to the protocol. They’ve experienced it, they understand.”

Most importantly, says Tippy, there are the online forums where you can ‘meet’ people who have been through exactly what you yourself are going through.

“I myself have found someone of my age who’s going through precisely the same thing. It’s hugely supportive and encouraging.”

  • The Yorkshire Dales Calendar 2018 by Anita Watson is available from local shops, YDNPA outlets, and on Amazon, Facebook (search for Dales Calendar) and Twitter @dalesanita. Or go to www.dalescalendar.co.uk 
  • Breast Cancer Care www.breastcancercare.org.uk. Helpline call free on 0808 800 6000