By Rachel Peru, Model and Fashion Correspondent

How fashion can keep people connected and raise money for a good cause


For the last ten years I have volunteered to model in the Ilkley Macmillan Fashion Show which raises thousands each year to help support those diagnosed with cancer.

The fashion show alone raises approximately £18,000 each year so you can imagine how upsetting it was to have to cancel the show this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ilkley committee work so hard with months of preparation to make it the huge success it is each year. Cancer doesn't stop during a lockdown and charities like Macmillan have to rely on donations to keep going.

I was delighted when one of the volunteer models, Martin Alton, suggested we should create a virtual Garden Fashion Show to raise some money and have some fun along the way.

“It was supposed to be the day of the final rehearsal for this years fashion show, the 23rd April, when it really hit home with me just how much Macmillan would miss the incredible amount of funds that we raise each year at this event.
So, I decided to try and do something to help during these unprecedented times.
The disappointment was so apparent when the event had to be cancelled, so to have been able to produce a video, it has put a smile on everyone’s faces and hopefully some valuable funds to Macmillan Cancer Support.” Martin said.


Taking part in the show each year has been a great way to meet and bond with new people backstage as everyones' nerves kick in; it's a supportive group of men and women and we have a LOT of fun! We have all come together for very different reasons and here is just a small selection of quotes from those involved in modelling:

“I look forward to the fashion show each year and I count down to the rehearsals about 6 months beforehand. It's really helped my self esteem and confidence which is sometimes lacking and I feel so proud to be involved and It's really helped me through the current situation. It gave me a real boost and It was great seeing the final video and seeing all those familiar faces and the fun that we were all having.” Nicola Gornal

“The Macmillan is close to my heart, my son was one of the first models and did one of the fashion shows when he’d just had his last chemo. He was really fatigued but it was a cause close to his heart and he loved giving back, in fact he was the first male to do the swimming shorts. He got me involved and even though I get quite anxious doing it I really enjoy giving something back to such a worthy cause, being a nurse I know first hand how it is a much needed charity.” Julie Gilbert

It's something I personally look forward to each year and has been instrumental in me pursuing a career in modelling later in life, as each year my confidence grew and I realised how much I loved walking the catwalk.

You can listen to a previously recorded Out of the Bubble podcast episode from our 2019 show where I interviewed some of the models and they talked about how they feel taking part and what they get out of the experience.

(The first part is an interview with Calendar Girl Tricia Stewart followed by our lovely group of models.)

So, this years' show might not have happened but this will keep everyone connected for the cause and we have already raised over £1100 with the total growing daily. Our target is £2000 and every penny counts.

Adele Burrough is the Macmillan fund-raising manager for Yorkshire and she was delighted when she saw the video.

“Being diagnosed with cancer is extremely tough at any time but receiving a cancer diagnosis in the midst of Covid-19 is especially difficult. People living with cancer need us more than ever and we need to ensure cancer does not become the #ForgottenC.
Due to the challenging times over the past few months our income is likely to be down by 50% this year, and as Macmillan is almost entirely funded by donations, we cannot continue to be there for all the people who need us without the support of the public. Every year the Ilkley Fundraising Committee host a fashion show and sadly this year’s live event had to be cancelled. Not to be beaten and knowing how much the fundraising is needed to Macmillan; the incredible models decided to host a virtual show. I can not thank them enough for their commitment and support. I was thrilled when I saw the finished version and the donations raised will all stay to support local people here in Yorkshire.”

Donations can be made here