INSPIRATION comes in different forms.

Art is a thread that has run through Judy Connor’s life - and now she’s using her expertise to help older women prove their purpose and showcase their talents.

It was spotting a Facebook post about the ‘Red Hot Mamas of Idaho’ that inspired Judy to set up the Bradford Belles - described as a ‘new musical/comedy troupe’ - in her home city of Bradford.

The footage of the women who stole the show at a Thanksgiving Parade in America demonstrated their energy and vibrancy and resonated with Judy who was keen to re-create something similar at home. “I thought ‘we should have this in Bradford,’” says Judy.

Through her involvement with the community arts initiative, Cecil Green Arts - a collective of artists, puppeteers, musicians and street performers who are experienced in leading community arts projects and which launched in Bradford around seven years ago, Judy decided to gather together a group of creative women in the city to showcase their talents through outdoor performances.

While the idea behind Bradford Belles is still a work in progress - when we spoke they hadn’t held their first meeting - the aim and intention is already evident as Judy explains.

“I am proud to be 60 years old. Women of my age often get ‘written off’ but we have a lot to offer, we have had many experiences of life, good and bad, we have stories to tell, wisdom to share, we don’t want to be ignored and forgotten.”

With her background in arts, Judy has an art degree and also undertook an MA in printmaking at Bradford College, and through her involvement with Cecil Green Arts she already has a network of contacts.

“What excites me is getting people together through arts, whatever art that is, and creating things together, building communities and mostly doing that through visual arts,” she explains.

Bradford Belles aims to showcase women - whatever their age. “It is going to be devised by the women who are involved. It will be something that will be performed outdoors and showing the vibrancy of older women,” explains Judy.

So far, she has drafted in experts in dance and drama and is now looking forward to the launch meeting of the Bradford Belles on Tuesday May 7.

While the age range is women over 50, Judy hopes young women will also get involved. “If younger women want to join they are more than welcome,” says Judy.

She says they are hoping to participate in outdoor parades and events as well as focus on getting fitter, having fun and learning new skills.

“Through Bradford Belles we will create new friendships and support each other in whatever life brings,” says Judy.

The first session of the Bradford Belles runs from 4 until 6pm on Tuesday May 7 in the Kirkgate Community Centre, Shipley.

Visit or email Judy on

By Sally Clifford