Tricia Stewart, one of the original Calendar Girls and a member of the renowned Rylstone Women’s Institute in North Yorkshire, is embarking on a remarkable journey at the age of 74. Her mission: to become a Brazilian jiu-jitsu teacher with the goal of empowering women and girls to defend themselves effectively.
Tricia’s journey began in North Yorkshire, where the iconic Calendar Girls were formed, ultimately inspiring the 2003 film of the same name. However, Tricia’s new venture takes her to a self-defense center in Harrogate, where she is diligently working to attain a pink belt ranking in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
For Tricia, this endeavor is more than personal growth; it’s a mission to equip women with the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves in an increasingly challenging world. “It’s so important for women to know that they have this power,” she emphasized. In a society where abuse remains a prevalent issue, Tricia sees Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a martial art focused on ground fighting and submission holds, as a valuable tool for women’s self-defense.
Tricia’s vision extends beyond her own training. She aspires to visit schools and impart essential self-defense knowledge to young girls, nurturing their abilities week after week. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, with its profound philosophy and dignity, aligns perfectly with her mission to empower women.
Tricia Stewart’s journey began as one of the 11 women who posed tastefully behind baked goods and flower arrangements for the 1999 Women’s Institute calendar. Their goal was to raise £5,000 for charity, specifically to purchase a settee for their local hospital, in memory of John Baker, one of their husbands, who succumbed to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1998. Remarkably, their calendar not only achieved its initial goal but exceeded it, raising approximately £6 million.
For Tricia, the calendar and her current pursuit share a common theme: empowerment. She emphasized that the Calendar Girls project was about women gaining confidence in their own skin and realizing their potential. In many ways, it was a transformative experience for the participants, who grew from possibly being shy individuals to recognizing their capabilities.
The Calendar Girls project had a profound impact, even inspiring a film featuring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, along with subsequent adaptations like a musical and stage show.
Tricia Stewart’s commitment to empowering women through Brazilian jiu-jitsu demonstrates the enduring spirit of the Calendar Girls and their dedication to making a positive difference in the world. Her journey continues to inspire and uplift, reinforcing the idea that it’s never too late to embark on a mission of empowerment and change.
Don’t miss the full interview with Tricia Stewart on Sunday, September 24, airing on Politics North (Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) on BBC One from 10:00 BST or available on the BBC iPlayer afterwards.