The Tangent Club - a Fylde hat hire service that raises funds for charity

Barbara Kay

Barbara Kay - Credit: Archant

The ladies of Kirkham and Rural Fylde Tangent Club are full to the brim with generosity – and hats. Words by Rebekka O’Grady

Marian Cookson, Denise Nye, Margaret Nuttall, Joanna Fairclough, Barbara Kay and Sue Kenny

Marian Cookson, Denise Nye, Margaret Nuttall, Joanna Fairclough, Barbara Kay and Sue Kenny - Credit: Archant

When Barbara Kay was a teenager, she thought it was incredibly boring to be told about how to take care of hats by her milliner aunt. ‘At 15 years old, it was the last thing I wanted to hear about,’ laughed Barbara. ‘I was shown how to brush, clean and steam. I can’t believe how useful it has been now though.’

It’s been incredibly useful as stored in Barbara’s home in Kirkham are more than 200 hats. This isn’t just a personal passion for fashion though. Barbara is treasurer of the Kirkham and Rural Fylde Tangent Club; a group where members have been offering fashionable ladies a hat hire service to raise funds for charity. So how did all of this start?

‘I love shopping for clothes at Mandy Sisson in Lytham. Around four years ago, I was at the store and Mandy approached me saying that she had 40 hats she no longer required, and asking if we ladies at the Tangent Club could make some use of them,’ explained Barbara.

‘Initially we hired them out among ourselves but we didn’t make a lot of money. However, we did a talk in a church one evening and brought the hats along. There were around 100 people and we made £500. It was then we realised this could really be something.’

Mandy has continued to donate her unwanted and previous season hats to the ladies at Tangent, and Barbara says without that they wouldn’t be able to raise the money they do. ‘Some hats have never even been worn and have a value of £400,’ said Barbara. ‘Due to her help there is no expense to us whatsoever and every penny goes to charity. Aubergine in Pemberton has also started to give us hats, most recently 52 fascinators.’

Barbara encourages ladies who are interested in hiring a hat to bring their outfits to her home so they can select the perfect match. ‘I ask them over the phone what colour their items are so I can bring out suitable hats for them to choose from,’ said Barbara. ‘Ladies come to us for all occasions and we have even had hats that have travelled to Buckingham Palace and to meet Prince Charles during his visits to the Inn at Whitewell.’

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The fee the ladies charge to hire is £20 per hat and £10 per fascinator. Once hired, you can keep the hat for two weeks prior to the event and then return it to Barbara around three days later. ‘It’s a very pleasurable thing to do. People go away happy and we get to raise money for good causes.’

Since May 2014, the Kirkham and Rural Fylde Tangent Club have raised £1,250 through hat hire and talks they host about hats and the club. They will then calculate their final total this May and hope to split the funds between two charities. Tangent Club chairwoman, Denise Nye, has chosen Dogs for the Disabled and Barbara has said she would like Mandy to select a charity as a thank you for her generosity.

‘It’s been such a great experience and we have recently given the ladies at Darwen Tangent Club 50 of our hats as they have started to do something similar,’ said Barbara. ‘It’s great to pass the knowledge on and hopefully we might have started something off!’ w

For more information or to hire a hat, call

Barbara on 01772 685601

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