Two national charity workers at The British Polio Fellowship, became media stars for the day at Royal Ascot (Ladies’ Day), on Thursday 16 June, receiving international media attention as they promoted awareness of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) via a stunning sporting hat collection. Emma Smith from Hemel Hempstead, Administration Apprentice for the charity, and Hetty Kelly from Swansea, Office Co-ordinator, sported a Lion and Dragon hat respectively to commemorate the day’s other big sporting event as England took on Wales at Euro 2016. The hats were expertly created for British Polio by Janice Charles at House of Charles, a national independent milliner, based in Liverpool.
The Lion and Dragon hat were just two of a collection of 10 hats which celebrated the nation’s sporting teams, aiming to promote awareness of PPS, a devastating neurological condition which affects around 120,000 people in Britain. With an additional hat campaigning for accessibility issues across the UK, the hats turned heads and led to Emma and Hetty’s picture being used by BBC News, ITV, Mail Online, The Standard, The Sun, Mirror, Express, and the Telegraph, amongst many nationals. British Polio’s CEO, Ted Hill, was interviewed by Channel4, ITV, Ascot Live TV and even crews from around the world including France. To date, www.britishpolio.org.uk/ppsascothats has attracted over 75,000 hits and the number keeps rising. Former ‘Dessie’ jockey Colin Brown and racing pundit John McCririck even chipped in, to lend a hand to the campaign on the day.
Ted Hill MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship said the media coverage provides a hugely positive platform to help raise awareness of PPS. “To see the image of our hats used by such big names means the word is getting out there on PPS, on a global scale,” said Ted. “Campaigning to spread awareness of PPS is one of our primary aims here at The British Polio Fellowship, so this was a massive step in the right direction for our charity.”
A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the charity revealed that only seven per cent of the British public have heard of PPS, despite it affecting around the same number of people as Parkinson’s disease – something that’s only stepped up The British Polio Fellowship to campaign for awareness of PPS. Alongside this, the charity campaigns for fashion accessibility, with the Ascot hat collection initiative being the third fashion collection.
“Our fashion campaigns aim to visually grab people’s attention and as a result spread the word on PPS,” said Ted. “We need as much help as we can to support the 120,000 people living with cold intolerance, fatigue, problems with breathing and other symptoms. GPs need to be made aware of it, politicians need to be made aware of it, and the general public need to be aware of it. Our success at Ascot is another step towards realising that ambition,” he concluded.