A STUNNING hat worn by Lady Lansdowne to Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’s wedding could help scores of people regain a semblance of normality after suffering head trauma.
The headwear, designed by milliner to royalty Jane Corbett and believed to be worth more than £1,000, was donated by the marchioness herself to brain injury charity Headway Swindon and District to boost its fundraising efforts to secure larger and more adapted premises in town.
The feathered pink and chocolate straw hat will now be sold to the highest bidder ahead of Ascot, although staff and volunteers at Headway are unsure how much it could sell for.
“We have no idea how much it might fetch,” said centre manager Jane Weston, who had a chance to model the straw hat yesterday. “I don’t know how much people pay for hats for Ascot and certainly not from that designer. She makes hats for the Middletons (Prince William’s in-laws).
“It was a brilliant surprise. It was so unusual and I was very touched by it. It’s a personal gift.”
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles married on April 9, 2005.
Lady Lansdowne, a patron of the national charity’s branch in Bath, was moved to donate the hat to Headway Swindon as Mark Jennings, the son of one of her employees at Bowood House, uses the rehabilitation centre.
The gift coincided with the charity’s awareness campaign Hats for Headway, for which Mark’s sister and brother-in-law Dawn and Darren Guinness held a large fundraising event at their home.
Headway Swindon and District will need to leave its current base in Upper Stratton when its lease ends next year as the area is earmarked for redevelopment. The charity, which had already outgrown its premises, is now looking for larger headquarters to welcome new users and offer facilities fitted with disabled access, able to provide various activity rooms and a specially-designed kitchen to allow them to familiarise themselves once more with daily tasks such as cooking.
The centre, which costs £250,000 to run each year, uses cognitive rehabilitation therapy to allow people who suffered head trauma or injury to relearn skills – such as their ability to speak, read or write and use their short-term memory – that have been affected as a result of damage to the brain.
“There is a constant demand for our services,” added Jane. “Our client numbers have gone up 20 per cent, from around 52-55 to 67 in the last year alone. When we move the cost of running the operation is going to go up.
“We really want to have dedicated art space, a bigger kitchen to do more life-skill training and a dedicated room, for example for a neurology clinic.”
To make a donation to Headway Swindon and District call 01793 617109, email info@headwayswindon. org.uk or visit www.headway swindon.org.uk.