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Back Up, a national charity for anyone affected by spinal cord injury, took over the exclusive Hurlingham Club for an evening of fun, fashion and fundraising.

Spinal cord injury can affect anybody at any time. It can permanently affect mobility, hand dexterity, as well as control of bladder and bowels. Back Up provides services which help people affected by spinal cord injury get the most out of life.

The charity hosted their annual Front Row fashion show on Thursday 5 March. The event was attended by numerous high-profile attendees including Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard and Surrey-based philanthropist Charlotte Grobien. Previous guests have included presenter and activist Sophie Morgan, and Academy Award winner Olivia Colman. Back Up’s newly appointed CEO Abigail Lock, hosted the evening. This was her first major event at the helm of Back Up. Yasmin Sheikh was MC for the night.
The fashion show featured London fashion designers Gunda Hafner, Marco Tripoli, Whyte Studio and NRBY. Aside from serving up excellent looks, each designer worked with a wheelchair user model to showcase wonderful examples of accessible fashion. Emma Birch, an Instagram influencer who participated as a wheelchair model, says she was delighted to be involved. She was happy to help raise funds for Back Up’s services while promoting the inclusion of disabled people in fashion.

Emma Birch, Instagram influencer and disability campaigner – @sittingdownstyle
Photo: Andrew H Williams Photography

“I know first-hand what fantastic support Back Up provides. They taught me wheelchair skills after I sustained my injury, and I’m excited to soon be going on an adventurous Multi-Activity Course in April.

“I’m thrilled to take part in this glamourous event. Front Row is all about celebrating beauty and diversity. Fashion is for everyone, including for those who have a spinal cord injury. I applaud Back Up for placing a spotlight on inclusivity within the fashion industry today.”

Back Up provides a range of volunteer-led services for everyone affected by spinal cord injury. This includes teaching newly injured people how to effectively use wheelchairs in hospital and in real-world locations around the UK. They also provide confidence-boosting residential courses including thrilling adaptive skiing courses in Sweden and Colorado, and weekends specifically designed for people who can still walk after spinal cord injury. There is also vital support in place for family members of people who have sustained a devastating spinal cord injury, with peer-led telephone mentoring available.

On the evening of the show alone, Back Up managed to raise a stunning £74,000 through ticket sales, donations, and auction bids – and more is expected to come in soon. Every four hours, someone’s life is changed forever by spinal cord injury. The money raised at events like Front Row mean that Back Up can realise their vision of a world where everyone with a spinal cord injury can realise their true potential. Donations can be made at https://www.backuptrust.org.uk/get-involved/donate-to-us/make-a-donation

Following the success of Front Row, the charity is excited for the next major event on the horizon, the City Dinner – an exclusive evening at the Merchant Taylor Hall in Central London. You can learn more about Back Up’s calendar of events on their website – https://www.backuptrust.org.uk/get-involved/special-events

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