Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Henshaws Fashion Fundraiser

The Henshaws Fashion Fundraiser took place on Wednesday, 26th of March, at Alderley Edge Cricket Club in Cheshire. I was kindly invited along to the event, to give a speech about my sight loss, how Henshaws has transformed my life over the past 7 months, and also tying in the fashion aspect of the evening by sharing how I purchase and select clothes as a visually impaired person.

The event began with the Henshaws Short Film being played to the audience, introducing the charity to those who may not have heard about it before and to also represent the service users and how the charity has benefitted them - and how the funds from the event will continue to make a difference.

It was then time for my speech, briefly explaining my sight condition and how Henshaws has helped me since I started visiting the Manchester centre, as well incorporating the theme of fashion and providing insight into how I piece together an outfit with the help of handy organisation skills and the RNIB PENfriend - an electronic device for the blind and visually impaired. This may have been something that people never gave much thought to before, so hopefully it was quite interesting and informative! I gave a demonstration of how I use the PENfriend, with machine-washable labels, to differentiate between similar clothes that feel the same - which I have trouble with. Some items can be identified due to the weight of the fabric and any tell-tale details stitched onto the item of clothing, and accessories can be distinguished from one another - such as my jewellery and hair bows - from the particular elements featured including rhinestones and sequins.

My speech is now available on the Henshaws YouTube channel. You can view it below:

I received such a wonderful response from my speech and had some especially lovely comments from people who came up to me towards the end of the night. That really made my evening, particularly since I was quite nervous to start with! This was only my second speech with Henshaws (and my second venture into public speaking overall!) but already I am feeling a lot more comfortable with it.

After my speech and demonstration, the fashion show rolled out with full force. Clothing was kindly donated by local brands for the evening and the models strutted their stuff on the catwalk. Key pieces integrated colour palettes and patterns from the upcoming spring and summer trends, including soft pastels, bold patterns and loose fabrics. A big thank you to Helen for being so kind as to describe each outfit to me!

Halfway through the fashion show, we were treated to a make-up tutorial from freelance make-up artist, Frank, who demonstrated some of the latest looks for the spring and summer including make-up from MAC and Sleek; with winged eyeliner, contoured features, peach blush and a light pink lip.

After the fashion show wrapped up, it was time for the raffle prizes to be handed out! I drew out each winning raffle ticket and the wonderful prizes included afternoon tea, John Lewis vouchers and a champagne experience. Well done to everyone who won something, including our very own photographer for the evening, Keith Ogden!

The Mulberry Alexa bag, in soft buffalo leather, was up next - generously donated by Mulberry. Congratulations to Sarah (@sarahmarginson) for winning the bag. Very well deserved, and the envy of everybody that evening!

Everyone who attended the event received a goody bag, filled with all sorts of wonderful items - including a Sebastian Shaper Zero Gravity hairspray, Hugo Boss Bottled eau de toilette sampler, Slater Heelis pen, and L'Occitane En Provence gifts; samples of Repairing Shampoo for Dry & Damaged Hair (Red's The Best of Beauty 2013 and The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible Winner 2014), Immortelle Precious Serum (Harper's Bazaar's Beauty Hot 100 List 2012) and Immortelle Precious Cream. I've linked to all of the products and their official websites so that you can have a closer look at the ingredients, item descriptions and prices of the full-sized products.

Also included in the gift bag was a Henshaws leaflet, detailing the work that the charity does and how the money from fundraising and donations is distributed across the various services - such as Friendship Matters groups, the Children and Families service, the Patient Support service at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, IT training, Visual Impairment Awareness training, and independence courses. It costs £510,000 to run the Manchester centre in one year, which is just over £2,000 per day.

I had an absolutely fantastic evening, and want to give a big thank you to the team at Henshaws for inviting me to the event and for their wonderful support and encouragement for my speech - including Helen, Louisa, Jo, Glenn and Hayley. Also a big thank you to Keith for the photographs and to everyone who attended the event and helped to raise £2,000 for Henshaws!

I recently uploaded an AudioBoom snippet about the Henshaws Fashion Fundraiser, which you can either listen to here or by clicking on the player below.