Putting on a show

There are times when fundraising for such a massive target, £1m, can make each day feel a bit like Groundhog Day.

Alarm goes off ( now that darker mornings have kicked in and so does my SAD light!), radio comes on and bleary-eyed me crawls out of bed into the kitchen to make LSH (as in Long Suffering Husband) breakfast and then lunch to go, see him off at 7am, switch on computer, make pot of tea and toast, settle down to read emails that have come in overnight, reply to most urgent, shower (helps a bit) then start a day filled with meetings, begging, organizing events and administration.

The rewards of working so hard in September are that more and more people want to support It’s Good 2 Give which is fantastic.

The ever so slight downside was the Groundhog Day feeling. I love what I do but admit that the huge amount of admin can seem never ending. And so it was that I started October feeling a bit daunted.

Said feeling lasted no time at all as we got stuck into our fashion show preparations.
Our annual fashion show is on 7 November and involves 49 models, 6 boutiques, 40 volunteers and, I hope, over 400 guests. When I organized my first charity fashion show five years ago we had six models, one boutique and 100 guests.

What a job I had persuading people to model. I practically had to bribe friends and family. They weren’t thin, pretty or confident enough, they said. I managed to get six people to model. To me they were all wonderful. They were all real. The clothes chosen for them suited them and our guests loved it.

What really influenced everyone involved though was one young girl. Zoe was 16 at the time and fighting cancer for a second time. She was bald from chemo treatments and wore a different coloured wig depending on her mood. Her poise and incredible self confidence were quite remarkable for her age. She was happy to be seen with and without her wig.

From that moment on we had many people offer to model. Zoe and the other five women who modeled for me at that first show led the way – as did our guests of course who were full of praise for holding a fashion show that was showing real clothes on real people.

Zoe had got the modeling bug and had ‘signed’ herself up with me for two more shows. She had also been on TV talking about a wigs project we had just started. This girl was comfortable in her own skin.

The cancer took her life just days before her 18th birthday and a week before our fashion show. What a loss for all her loving family and the rest of us is about all I can say.

The fashion shows that have followed have grown bigger and bigger. Last year we had around 40 models. This year we have 49. I will say yes to every single person who comes and asks to model if they have been affected by childhood or young person cancer.

A major part of what It’s Good 2 Give is about is to support families affected by cancer. The fashion show is one way of doing that. The day of the show itself becomes a day of chatting with people who have been through similar situations. Shy or reluctant models, both make and female, are encouraged by the more gregarious and experienced models – mentored even.

The beginning of the day starts with a visit to the Charlie Miller salon to get hair done. Charlie does the wigs too. The noise level in the salon is incredible as chatter and laughter fill it. Plenty of teasing goes on and much laughter is to be heard in all our changing rooms all afternoon. The boys even good naturedly allow some make up to be applied!

Once those young people, the siblings and parents step onto the catwalk you can see them blossom. Last year at the end of the show (when I must admit to being elated but utterly drained) they were begging me to include them again this year! My aim will be for a repeat this year.

Watch this space…

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