My Man Is Fighting Cancer, So Starring in Calendar Girls Will Be Tough; at Jacqui's Mixed Emotions Role in One of First Amateur Versions of Hit Show LIFE IMITATES ART AS VILLAGE LADIES STRIP TO RAISE CASH FOR CHARITY

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Byline: Nan Spowart

PIN-UP Jennifer Ellison has done it, so have Jerry Hall and Gemma Atkinson. Now a group of women from a Scottish village are stripping off to play the iconic roles in Calendar Girls.

The women will be one of the first amateur groups in Britain to bare all for the production, after writers released the script for novice groups to perform.

And for the brave ladies from West Linton, Peeblesshire, the famous story will be even more poignant, as the husband of their leading lady is currently undergoing gruelling cancer treatment.

In a case of life imitating art, Jacqui Morrison will play the part of Annie, whose husband dies during the making of the nude calendar after succumbing to the disease.

Jacqui, 48, admitted that taking on the role will be hard, but says it will be worth every tear as they raise vital funds to help fight cancer.

"I will find it difficult, without a doubt, and there are parts where I feel myself choking up, but I think this will make it more real for everybody, as a lot of people know about my husband and they are all very supportive," Jacqui explained. "There are so many people around here who have been affected by cancer that they understand what's happening to us."

Her husband, Ian, 55, was diagnosed with bowel cancer seven months ago after a routine test found abnormalities.

He was called into Borders General Hospital last October for a colonoscopy, and was told he had cancer the same day.

"It was a bolt from the blue as he had no symptoms and is very fit and healthy," said Jacqui.

The couple, who had been together for eight years, were due to get married this March but decided to bring the wedding forward because of the shock diagnosis.

"When this happened Ian said he wanted to get married as soon as we could manage," said Jacqui.

With bowel surgery scheduled for December, the couple had little time to organise their wedding but, amazingly, managed to do it in a fortnight and got married at 11am on 11/11/2011.

"We didn't ask for that time and date, it was just the slot the registrar had. We were very lucky, and it was a fantastic day," said Jacqui.

Ian underwent a major operation in December in which he had a section of bowel removed but he was up and about just days later.

"The surgeon, who was brilliant, said he recovered well because he is so fit and healthy," Jacqui said.

Since January, Ian has been having chemotherapy to clear up any remaining cancer cells but has been responding well and already has his seat booked for his wife's performance in September.

Ian said: "One of the charities they are raising money for is Macmillan Nurses, which is great as I have had fantastic care from them, and I'm glad they are trying to give something back.

"I'm also lucky in that the cancer was caught before I had any symptoms - it just shows you how important these routine tests are. I would encourage everybody who has the chance to take them to do so."

As well as having to cope with her emotions about Ian, Jacqui - and the rest of the cast - also have to get used to the idea of being on stage in the nude.

Some have been exercising frantically to get in shape but while there are a few nerves, they are all determined to really go for it so that they can raise as much money as possible.

"We are all going to be as naked as we have to be but it will be done tastefully, and hopefully there will be no slip-ups," Jacqui said.

Jacqui has been a member of Lyne-Up, the amateur dramatic society in West Linton, near Peebles, since she was in her 20s, and said the group were very excited when they first found out amateurs were to be allowed to perform the play. …