WHEN Florence Slattery started the Red Hatters in Warwick 15 years ago, she had no idea the concept would bring so much enjoyment to tens of thousands of women around the country.

What started as an idea thrown around between Mrs Slattery and a friend from America has since blossomed into more than 350 chapters and at least 12,250 members.

A royalist through and through, the 98-year-old Supreme Matriarch of the Red Hatters said she never imagined it would grow to the colourful phenomenon that it is today.

"In 1999 my friend visited me from America and told me they had this new thing going called the Red Hat Society - she suggested I start it up here in Warwick," she said.

"In 2000 I was in so many different organisations, but I got a few of us together and we had a fantastic morning tea.

"There was about 20 of us and we all said 'yes we'd love to do this again'."

LADY IN RED: Red Hatters Supreme Matriarch Florence Slattery with Queen Nell Evans from the Scarlet Ha’lets, who organised the special celebration at the Golf Club yesterday.
LADY IN RED: Red Hatters Supreme Matriarch Florence Slattery with Queen Nell Evans from the Scarlet Ha’lets, who organised the special celebration at the Golf Club yesterday. Jayden Brown

From there Mrs Slattery was asked to do a number of interviews on radio, and encouraged other towns to start their own societies - beginning an adventure that has touched the lives of women in every state of Australia.

"I feel like I've done something really worthwhile in my life - I've made these women really happy," she said.

"Some of the Red Hatters meet every week - they get together, they tell jokes, they have a laugh and have a few drinks."

To pay tribute to their founder, more than 100 of the Red Hatters gathered for a glitzy and glamorous ceremony at the Warwick Golf Club yesterday.

Organised by Queen Nell Evans from Allora's Scarlet Ha'lets, the special ceremony included the presentation of a framed red hat to Mrs Slattery.

"A few of us got together and decided something should be done for Florence as she's the one who started this off in Australia," Mrs Evans said.

"She's in her 99th year, she's such a treasure - she's just lovely."



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