The British Polio Fellowship made a huge impact at Royal Ascot Ladies’ Day yesterday, 16 June, as it unveiled 10 specially commissioned hats to raise awareness of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), a neurological condition affecting around 120,000 people in the UK.
The hats, by milliner Janice Charles, were inspired by the symbolic motifs of some of the UK’s favourite sports teams: England’s three lions (three separate lion hats); a Welsh football dragon; a Scottish RFU thistle; an Irish RFU clover; a Leicester City FC fox; Saracens Rugby Union ‘star and moon’; Spurs’ equally famous cockerel; and a wasp for Wasps RFC.
Ted Hill MBE, CEO of the British Polio Fellowship, said: “We have to work really hard to raise awareness of PPS as most of the public think that polio is a thing of the past – research shows that only 7% of people have heard of Post Polio Syndrome. The reality is there are many thousands of people still living with the effects of polio in the UK. The hats drew a huge amount of attention and it was fantastic! Everyone at the races loved the campaign.”
PPS occurs in 80% of people that have had polio; symptoms include a severe reduction in stamina, cold intolerance and muscle pain. Research conducted by the charity shows that only 7% of the British public have heard of PPS, despite it affecting the same number of people who have Parkinson’s disease.
Over the past three years, The British Polio Fellowship has become a strong voice for accessible fashion, after its inaugural fashion campaign in June 2014 that saw the design and production of the world’s first dress to fully incorporate a wheelchair. Following the success of last year’s fashion campaign to raise awareness of PPS day 2015 (which featured an entire collection designed by designer Aleah Leigh and modelled by British Polio Fellowship Ambassadors Anne Wafula-Strike MBE and Julia Roberts of QVC fame, alongside Premier League star Julian Speroni), the charity wanted to make an even bigger impact this summer.