Saga with Attitude

Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town – Photo by Andrew Taylor

On our last day in South Africa – (Monday) we drove to the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. They were beautiful and after walking around this huge enclave we collapsed in the tea rooms for our morning coffee.

There were several tables put together for a private party with a red and purple motif everywhere.

Shortly afterwards a group of middle aged ladies descended upon the cafe… a little like locusts! Smiling, friendly, bubbly and laughing all the time. And the amazing thing was, they were all wearing large red hats of different sizes and hues, and all had purple tops, or coats, also of different hues.

I was naturally curious and asked them what it was all about

HRH Jo Maxwell – Photo by Anmdrew Taylor

Their leader told me they were one of 22,000 chapters of the Red Hat Society around the world. First started in America by a fifty year old lady named “Sue Ellen Cooper” because she felt that life was just beginning, not ending, the society is principally engaged in raising money for charity – a little like the Masons, but unlik the masons, don’t go in for rituals and is not secret.

Jo Maxwell handed me her card which proclaimed her HRH Jo Maxwell, Queen of the Red Hat Renegades, as the Cape Town Chapter is known. And I will tell you, they were fun to talk to and fun to observe as I returned to my table.

There are some chapters in England but not very many alas.

I have added their website below and will warn you that although it looks slick, and professional, and commercial – I am told that the society is not a commercial organisation but a charity.


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