'We get lots of compliments' - how these red hatted ladies turn heads in Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 17:36 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:36 30 October 2019
As they walk down the streets in brightly-coloured red hats and striking dresses, passers by could once be heard to say: "Who is she?" But now the popular Ipswich Red Hatters have become so well-known across Suffolk's Waterfront town that while they still turn heads, there are seemingly few people who don't know about them and their eye-catching look.
The social society for women aged 50 and over has set up chapters across the UK since 2001 for people who would like to get out more and meet new people where they live.
The Ipswich chapter, headed by its "Queen" Jenny Andrew, started last year and has since gone from strength to strength - with the group invited to have tea with Ipswich mayor Jan Parry on Wednesday, October 23.
"We've reached a point where we're not even having to advertise for members," said Ms Andrew.
"We've moved from handing out cards to people just getting in touch because they want to join. We are really getting known.
"It's just about bringing people together for many, many different reasons. The reasons why people come to us are varied.
"There are two main reasons why people join - one is to have fun and the other one is to make friends. We've had a couple of ladies who came in quite shy and they've really blossomed."
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She added that getting dressed up to the nines for an afternoon out with the other Red Hatters "does give you a lift and make you feel like a woman".
She also said: "We get a lot of guys saying: 'I love what you're wearing' or: 'You look lovely.'
"Most of the time we're in dresses and it's quite a feminine look. We get lots of compliments.
"People used to say: 'Who is she?' One or two sad they wondered if we were going to a wedding - but that was right at the beginning. More people now know who we are."
Ms Andrew described the recent tea with the mayor as an "interesting and informative afternoon".
Membership for the Red Hatters is a voluntary £12 a year to cover costs. Events are organised by the Queen of the chapter.
Its monthly meetings take place every third Thursday of the month at St Lawrence Centre Cafe in Dial Lane, Ipswich.
New members are encouraged to contact the group by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Cathy McKenna on 07745135323.