Nineteen young patients at our hospital recently unleashed their inner supermodel and walked the catwalk at a unique adaptive fashion show, wearing clothes designed especially to meet their needs by students from South and City College Birmingham. 

Young people with physical disabilities often find themselves at a disadvantage when shopping for clothes, with mainstream high street stores not catering for their needs and specialist retailers creating unflattering and expensive alternatives. 

Altogether it makes for a very frustrating experience and it’s one which Ms Andrea Jester, a consultant hand and upper limb plastic surgeon at our hospital, has heard about time and time again from her patients and their families. 

The fashion show, which is supported by and raises money for our charity, is a special collaboration with our hospital and the School of Fashion at South and City College Birmingham. The event uplifts and empowers patients, giving them confidence as well as raising awareness of the need for more adaptive clothing within the fashion community. 

One of the models who took to this year’s runway was 11-year-old Gracie from Coventry who struggles with a chronic condition which causes stiffness in the joints. She can’t use her hands and wrists properly and is in constant pain. Gracie needs help to get dressed because she can’t do up laces, zips or buttons.

Gracie’s custom-made outfit was purposefully designed to be easy to put on. She said: “I loved being picked to do the fashion show this year and showing off the clothes that have been adapted for us. I hope it will help people understand more.” 

The event is now in its third year, and for the first time, it was coupled with a smaller, second show in the Conservatory of our hospital, which featured the designs of renowned Malawian designer, Lily Alfonso. Lily flew in specially to see a group of young women with Poland Syndrome take to the runway. Poland Syndrome is a rare congenital condition characterised by underdeveloped chest muscles, often leading to asymmetry of the chest and hand abnormalities