Five fun and feisty female vicars in Sussex have had a twirl in tutus to support Stand Up to Cancer, a joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.
They surprised shoppers in Shoreham with their antics and had a good old laugh as they did a conga around St Mary de Haura Church.
Ann Waizeneker, Helen Rose, Emma Ham-Riche, Angela Martin and Lisa Barnett were ready to make fools of themselves in support of anyone dealing with cancer, including their colleague, the Rev Pauline Ingram, associate vicar of Maresfield and Nutley.
The Rev Ann Waizeneker, vicar at St Mary's and Church of the Good Shepherd on Shoreham Beach, said: "It's so important that we all do something to see if we can beat this terrible disease, particularly as now one in two people are affected by it.
"We as vicars see that a lot because of members of our congregation and our colleagues as well. Several we know have cancer and some others are in remission, thank God, because of the research.
"So, it is good to bring hope that we can do something about this and that is why we are proud to stand up to cancer."
The charity is asking people to dress up in a funny, unusual or unpredictable way to raise money for research.
The Rev Helen Rose, vicar of Church of the Holy Cross in Woodingdean, the Rev Angela Martin, vicar of Holy Trinity in Forest Row, The Rev Lisa Barnett, vicar at St Augustine’s in Scaynes Hill, the Rev Emma Ham-Riche, assistant curate of St Mary the Virgin in East Preston with Kingston, and the Rev Ann Waizeneker were happy to step up to answer their prayers.
They teamed their clerical collars with bright orange tutus and stripy socks before embracing the challenge with gusto, raising a few eyebrows around the ancient church in Shoreham town centre.
Their colleague Pauline was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer, in 2015. Initially, she was told it was a slow-growing cancer that was best left untreated, so she should concentrate on living her life.
Pauline said: "This was very frightening, not easy to understand or to do."
She continued to work in her parish but last summer, she began to feel very ill. Her lymph glands swelled up in her gut and throat.
Pauline needed six months of chemotherapy and had to step back from clerical duties, working only when she was well enough. She has suffered setbacks including pleurisy but is now on a slow road to recovery and says she could not have coped without her faith.
"Cancer is a scary word but I know God loves me so I am just working through this with him. It doesn’t mean I won’t be ill or I won’t die but I know everything will be alright, I haven’t been abandoned,” she said.
"I’m sorry I missed the tutu fun but glad they went ahead with it. The money people raise is desperately needed. It’s thanks to research that I’m still standing.”
The vicars are encouraging people to put the fun in fundraising and get involved in Stand Up To Cancer’s Fortnight of Fundraising from October 11-25.
A free fundraising pack is available, full of ideas. Visit su2c.org.uk for more information.
Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK spokesman for the south east, said: "We are very grateful to the lovely game-for-a-laugh vicars for helping to raise awareness with such panache. There has been amazing progress in the past few decades and more people are now surviving cancer than ever before. But with one in two of us in the UK set to develop the disease at some point in our lives, there’s still so much more to do.
"Supporting Stand Up To Cancer enables scientists to explore brave new ways to fight the disease and develop radical treatments, meaning more lives are saved.”