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Burlesque dancer Major Outrage back on the streets for Poppy Appeal

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: November 02, 2012

Jo Freestone

MAJOR APPEAL: Burlesque dancer Jo Freestone is preparing to collect money for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal on Saturday in Sherborne and Yeovil while dressed in costume as her alter-ego Major Outrage

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A burlesque dancer is taking to the streets tomorrow to raise money for charity, despite claims earlier this year that she was inappropriately dressed for the cause.

In July, Jo Freestone, 47, of Yeovil, hit out at attempts by the Sherborne branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) to ban her from collecting for the charity’s Poppy Appeal in the town as her alter ego ‘Major Outrage’.

Beverley Harrison, the RBL’s county secretary, said at the time that Jo’s burlesque performance was “not very Sherborne.”

The head office of the organisation later apologised and said Jo was free to collect while dressed however she wished.

The story hit national headlines after first appearing in the Western Gazette.

Now Jo plans to revive her November routine in a hope to make the fundraising stunt “bigger and better than ever.”

She said: “I’m putting the events of the summer behind me and am looking forward to continuing fundraising for the Poppy Appeal. I think it’s successful because it is so unique.

“It raises an eyebrow and a smile and it’s something different.

“I think people want to donate more because they see you have made an effort. Major Outrage will certainly be out soliciting the streets for charity this Saturday.”

Jo will begin in Yeovil, walking from the war memorial through Union Street and Middle Street before meeting the RBL Yeovil Riders by the town’s bandstand at midday.

Jo said: “I’m delighted the Yeovil Riders have offered to escort me during the event and take part in the fundraising.

“I’m so pleased that there are wonderful people who are part of the British Legion and are happy to support fundraising in this way.

“I hope it will encourage others to do the same.”

Later, Jo will travel to Sherborne for 3pm, rattling her fundraising tin outside Sherborne Abbey before visiting businesses.

She said: “People have phoned me specifically asking me to visit their businesses in the town so they can make donations during the visit.”

She added: “I’m respectful of the cause, it’s not making fun. I have only ever had praise for the stunt and have never intended to offend anyone.”

The leader of the Sherborne-based “Barmy Burlesque” troupe first took to the streets of Sherborne as Major Outrage in November 2010, collecting donations during a 40-minute session.

Jo, whose relatives have served in the Armed Forces, takes inspiration from her grandfather.

He was a professional actor and officer, who entertained troops with group The Cheerios.

In its apologetic statement issued in July, the British Legion said: “Mrs Freestone is absolutely welcome to collect for the welfare of our proud British Armed Forces wherever, whenever, and in whatever outfits she pleases.”

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  • clarysage50  |  November 02 2012, 7:09PM

    Wow........times are changing in Sherborne.....there will be a crowd outside the Abbey for certain this weekend...

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