The recent death of English poet, Jenny Joseph (7 May 1932 – 8 January 2018), author of the “Warning” poem, the first and second lines being the inspiration upon which the Red Hat Society (RHS) was formed in Fullerton, CA, has been a quiet passing. For many women it would be insignificant amongst members of red hat groups, either registered as supporting members of the RHS, or otherwise. Whereas once the poem was a very prominent part of red hatting, sadly, it is an all but forgotten association of hatting today.
"Warning", which was written in 1961 was identified as the UK's "most popular post-war poem" in a 1996 poll by the BBC. It was with the gift of a red hat and a copy of the poem given to a friend who was turning 50 by Sue Ellen Cooper in 1997, and the perpetuation of the gift amongst other friends, on the 25 April 1998 those friends went out and the RHS was formed. It has been the catalyst for women around the world to embrace their aging years and to share some social opportunities of fun, friendships and frivolity (fitness and freedom), as they victoriously celebrate turning 50 and enter into the next phase of their lives.
See obituary from The Times on the tribute page.
Red hatting is all about women, generally over the age of 50, who choose to become involved in what is purely a social organisation, whereby ladies meet up and share time participating in a variety of activities. Thank goodness that the majority of ladies who have chosen to follow the ethos of the RHS, both in Australia and around the world, do so with a sense of belonging, if only to the actual chapter/group that they are members of.
In August the RHS will celebrate its 20 year anniversary in New Orleans with their annual International Convention, “Let the Good Times Roll”. Around the world there has been a history of red hat groups that have come and gone within those years.
In Australia there are currently 367 groups. This equates to
approximately 9500 females enjoying what red hatting has to offer. Of 111 Queens who are registered with the RHS, 11 of the chapters listed indicate that their members are Supporting Members of the RHS. (Current listing indicates 376 plus the 111 Queens).
Chapter numbers have grown since 2001 when the first group commenced in QLD. 120 chapters are still functioning that commenced in 2001 - 2008.
In March 2005, when this site was first started, there were 68 groups. Historical records show in 2011 there were 292; 2015 – 350 and 2017 – 365. There have been fluctuation numbers of new groups formed, with the period from 2005 to 2016 an average of 35 new groups started. In 2017 the number of new registered chapters was reduced to only 12 (6 registered and 6 not).
Anyone can form a group as there are no “rules” pertaining to red hatting. It remains that since 2008 there has been that longstanding debate about being a registered RHS supporting member, or group, or otherwise. Any lady, or group of ladies can go out dressed in purple clothes with a red hat and refer to themselves as red hatters, but cannot pertain to being a Supporting Member of the RHS if they are not.
In a fiscal sense one will always want something for money outlaid. Certainly in the economics of today’s world we are all looking at all facets of any money spent. If the “benefits” offered for payment are irrelevant to an individual and mostly non-assessable, few will give any consideration to such payment.
People will often be heard to compare the issues of belonging to this or that organisation. As it is the members that keep most organisations operational, those that spend on behalf of its members, need to be accountable.
The essential underpinning of any group or organisation is communication. So one wonders about those who are not in the loop with no access to a computer (yes, there are still some!), or have chosen not to receive the material sent by the RHS, can be seen to be given equal opportunity in this.
When these offerings are seen not to be fairly distributed to all members, there will be those that will continue to manipulate directives as they have in the past.
As the Editor of this site (and as a registered member of the RHS) I am aware that making contact with other RHS members has become increasingly difficult, even though the organisation continues to promote its new website as the future format to keep members connected.
I believe, as in the past 20 years, the RHS will continue to exist both with supporting members and (more so) with the continuation of ladies embracing the red hatting ethos which promotes the RHS and allows ladies to find that sense of worth in their aging years, initially encouraged by wording from the Jenny Joseph poem.
The main reason that this site has always existed is to freely offer information to any women who wants to contact a red hat group/s around Australia. That the site also features articles of chapters activities around the states and details of future events that may be of interest to both regional and state wide red hatters is an extra, and contributions are so appreciated to help keep this site interesting.
All groups are always welcome to contribute articles and to those that consistently provided content for the monthly pages, both past and into the future, know that you are appreciated, as without all of this information the site would not have continued and be of little value today.
13 years on (in producing this site and being an involved Red hat Queen) I and many others are still passionate about red hatting and the value to aging women. Ask any women involved about its value!
May we all enjoy much fun and frivolity and continuing friendships during 2018.
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