Liverpool milliner Janice Charles of House of Charles and national charity The British Polio Fellowship took Royal Ascot ‘Ladies’ Day’ (16 June) by storm with the ‘heading for a hat trick’ fashion campaign, to raise awareness of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). The campaign featured eleven bespoke hats designed and made by Janice, inspired by the symbolic motifs of some of the UK’s favourite sports teams. This is the third separate fashion campaign headed by The British Polio Fellowship to raise awareness of PPS, and is part of a wider effort to increase accessibility in fashion in general.
The bespoke designer hats, inspired by the symbolic motifs of some of the UK’s favourite sports teams, were part of the ‘Heading for a hat trick’ campaign, to raise awareness of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), and is part of a wider effort to increase accessibility in fashion. The campaign is the third of its kind in the effort to raise awareness for PPS, which affects 120,000 people in the UK alone.
The hats were revealed at Royal Ascot Gold Cup Day – ‘Ladies day’ – where the innovation and presentation of millinery products have a vibrant history. Some of the hats featured include England’s three lions (three separate lion hats); a Welsh football dragon (England will play Wales in the Euros at 2:00pm on 16 June); a Scottish RFU thistle; an Irish RFU clover; a Leicester City FC fox; Saracens Rugby Union ‘star and moon’ and Spurs’ equally famous cockerel; and a wasp for Wasps RFC.
Janice’s love for fashion and glamour stemmed from her admiration of the style icons from the Golden Age of Hollywood, including Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, and she now runs a company which specialises in making bespoke hats on a made to order basis, with a studio in Liverpool, L1. After the day’s events Janice said, “I’m really happy with how the hats turned out, and hopefully they have served their purpose of getting people to talk about Post Polio Syndrome.”
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.
Ted Hill MBE, CEO of the British Polio Fellowship, commented on the day: “Janice has done us proud with her fantastic work on the hats; they have certainly been getting people talking! This is a tremendously creative way to raise awareness for PPS, and we are very happy to say that we think some people will leave here today with knowledge of the condition, where they hadn’t got any before.”
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.
“2016 is a year with a massive sporting focus, with the European football championships, the Olympic and Paralympic Games – not forgetting the momentous rise of underdogs Leicester City FC winning the Premier League recently. We’re honouring these sporting achievements with the hats whilst at the same time getting people to spare a thought for those living with PPS,” concluded Ted.