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Grandmother’s love of Mothers' Union is now skin deep

19 May 2017


Permanent marker: the emblem of the Mothers’ Union has been tattooed on Joyce Shelton’s left ankle, in celebration of 50 years of membership

Permanent marker: the emblem of the Mothers’ Union has been tattooed on Joyce Shelton’s left ankle, in celebration of 50 years of membersh...

WHEN Joyce Shelton realised that she had notched up 50 years’ membership of the Mothers’ Union, she decided to mark the anniversary with a visit to a tattoo parlour.

The 85-year-old grandmother from north Yorkshire has had the MU emblem tattooed on her left ankle in celebration of the institution and her long-standing membership.

“The Mothers’ Union is the best-kept secret in the Church of England,” she said. Mrs Shelton has been a member of three different branches in Yorkshire in her 50 years, ending up in Stokesley. She joined as a 35-year-old mother with three sons, and now has four grandsons.

“I’d never thought about having a tattoo,” she said, “but I noticed how everyone seems to have one these days. I asked the caretaker in the town hall where he had his done, and he offered to take me. But I went to the local tattooist above the hairdresser — there were a few dropped jaws when I walked in — and I asked if they could do it.

“The man next to me looked up the MU symbol on his iPad; they said they could do it. I would never do anything else, only the MU tattoo. It took 12 minutes, and it didn’t hurt a bit.”

The story of the tattoo has spread around the town, and she has had visits from the Rector of her church and others, besides a message of congratulation from the MU chief executive, Beverley Jullien. She said: “Many congratulations, Joyce — not least for being our first ever member to have a Mothers’ Union tattoo, but also for 50 years of dedicated service.

“Through the support of members like Joyce, the Mothers’ Union is able to help families and marriages thrive, send children on holiday, [and] stand up for sufferers of domestic violence, transforming families and building communities around the world.”

Mrs Shelton still enjoys going to every branch meeting of her local MU, and to the biannual retreat. “You have friends from all over Yorkshire in the MU,” she said. “We meet up at the retreats. We do such good things; I couldn’t be without it.”

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