Hauraki Herald May 24th 2011
Having a ball by seeing red by Jess Thorne-George
They call themselves the Ruby Redz, go by nicknames like Countess Tottie or Princess Royale and definetely aren't afraid to wear their pyjamas in public but only if they are purple.
They are the Thames Ruby Redz, a division of the Red Hat Society, an organisation developed inthe US more than 10 years ago for women with one ambition - to have fun.
The concpet was created by American Sue Ellen Cooper in 1998 when she gifted her freind a red hat and a copy of the famous poem, Warning, by Jenny Joseph which is more famously known as " I shall wear purple
The society has since taken off world wide and there are a significant number of registered chapters throughout New Zealand.
There are about 30 members in the Thames division, ranging in age from early 30's to late 90's, all of whom are living by the fun motto of "growing old disgracefully".
The women meet once a month and enjoy a wide range of activities, including trips to the horse races and hot pools, pyjama parties, plenty of wining and dining, and even the odd session of laughter  yoga - all of which is done in their red hats and purple outfits.
Maureen Mallinson, better known as Queen Izzy among the Ruby Redz, says the organisation is simply about fun, laughter and a lot of chocolate.
"This is a group that you can belong to and the main focus is having fun. We recognise chocolate as a main food group and choose to eat our desserts at the start of our meals," she says.
The meetings are co-ordinated by different members of the group, working aon a roster system, and Mrs Mallinson says almost anything goes.
"We are only limited by our imaginations".
Mrs Mallinson recalls a spontaneous pyjama fashion show at a cafe during one meeting where she believes young minds were 'tainted'.
We got three young travellers who were in there (the cafe) to judge the show, and one of the old dears did a flash of her skimpy nightgown," laughs Mrs Mallinson.
The Ruby Redz operate under an informal hierarchy, with Mrs Mallinson playing the role of Queen, supported by a Vice Queen (of Vices) Ngaire Potter and a Queen Mother - who is also the creator of the grooup and former Queen - Carol Dorrell.
However Mrs Mallinson insists she is not in charge, and jokes that she is simply there to "lead them into bad ways".
"I help them (other members) with meetings, I'm not in charge, but I am the Queen".
There are no official rules in the Red Hat Society.
For more information on the Thames Ruby Redz visit their website at
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