The Ashington pensioners who took on Fifty Shades of Grey have spoken to the County Times about their float success that has raised the nation’s eyebrows.
Donning masquerade masks and devil horns, the Ashington Minibus Group joined the popular Ashington Festival parade, which ran through the centre of the village on Saturday (August 15).
Little did they know that their efforts would be picked up by the national press and grab the attention of Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James.
Talking about their expereinces for the first time, the ladies who took part all agree they had the time of their lives.
“It was marvellous,” said 84-year-old Daphne Paris who dressed for the part in a black mask, “the best day I have had for years.”
Another member of the group, Shirley Strudwick, 77, said: “I felt on top of the world, it was one of the best days of my life. I’m on cloud nine and I haven’t come down yet.”
To honour this year’s festival theme of ‘favourite book’ many people came as Hungry Caterpillars, the pirates of Treasure Island and Mr Men, but the group of pensioners, including a 90-year-old, took it to the next level by decorating their minibus with handcuffs, rope and a sexy bodice.
Additionally, a cage, normally used to transport food shopping, contained a woman handcuffed to the bars.
Local neighbourhood warden, Jayne Jeffreys, helped organise the minibus decorations, made up of props acquired at the local pound shop.
“They were all up for it. They are naughtier than me. They just wanted to take part and have a giggle,” she said.
Jayne assists in regular days out for the pensioners, courtesy of Ashington Minibus Group, which includes trips to lunch, bingo sessions and other fun outings.
With mostly women onboard, the minibus passengers’ average age was 85 and included one brave man, Bob Paris, Daphne’s husband, who took on the role of Christian Grey.
“We didn’t want it to be smutty,” said Jayne. “It was a joint effort in the community.”
The minibus took three days to prepare with pink feather boas, sheets and a giant replica of the book cover to adorn the top of the vehicle.
Group volunteer Judith Stillwell said she had not read the book, so resorted to the internet for her research.
“Everyone knows what it’s about,” said Judith. “But with the minibus being grey, the seats grey and the old people grey, there were already so many shades. I asked them if they could wear grey and they all said brilliant!”
They may have turned a few heads on the day, but the float based on the E.L. James bestseller impressed the judges who awarded the group first place and the £100 cash prize.
Judith said: “When they found out they’d won they leapt three feet in the air!”
Olive Pummell was the oldest on the float at 90 years old.
She said: “I had a good time. I can’t believe we won, I’m very honoured.”
Since the County Times first reported on the winning float last week, the story has gone national and has even grabbed the attention of the book’s author E.L. James who congratulated them all via Twitter.
The popular writer, also known as Erika Mitchell, wrote: “Congratulations to the winning float at the Ashington Festival Parade.”
To celebrate their victory, the pensioners used the money for a trip to Littlehampton and a tasty fish and chips supper.
The group are looking for donations so they can continue their much needed service.
If you would like to help, contact Jayne on 07764146367.
“They are all fantastic, Don’t write off the elderly,” added Jayne.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make our website your homepage at www.wscountytimes.co.uk
2 Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wscountytimes
3 Follow us on Twitter @wscountytimes
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!
The County Times – always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.