Lodsworth designer Claire Featherstone has won a top prize in the first year of new cancer awards.
The 46-year-old textile expert won Best Hair Loss Product at the inaugural Spotlight Awards, for her chemotherapy headwear range.
She launched Chemo Headwear in 2014 and wanted it to really make a difference, so she gives five per cent of online sales to Macmillan in Midhurst.
Claire said: “I realised there was obviously a need for a hat that is nice, that you want to wear, that’s quick and easy to put on, comfortable and made from natural fabric, rather than hats that are mass produced and made from bad-quality fabric.
“Having lost both my parents to cancer by the time I hit my early 20s, it is a subject I feel strongly about.
“I was very keen to give back to Macmillan because they were incredibly supportive to me and my mother when my father died and then with me when my mother died.”
Claire, of The Street, was already running Featherstone Frocks when the idea for the hats came from her dress client Lucy O’Donnell, the author of Cancer is my Teacher.
About to start chemotherapy, Lucy told Claire she was shocked by the hats on offer for cancer patients and asked if she would try to make something that was not ‘polyester and horrible’.
Claire came up with a few turban patterns, plus some headscarves and bandanas for the author. For all her designs, uses high-quality, natural fabrics and every item is handmade.
She said: “I love meeting people, giving them advice – I’m quite good at knowing what colours look right.
“I do go up to London quite a bit to different cancer centres and hospitals where I will go and meet patients and have a good old trying on session.
“Of course, some people need privacy if they’re bald but by the end of the session, they’re whipping the scarves on and off and are suddenly much more confident.
“You can see their confidence grow just in that small amount of time I spend with them. I am glad I can help. I am not a doctor, so I can’t help with anything medical but I can do this and I feel like I am giving back to the community.
“It’s the little things like looking good that can really help in the midst of all the doctors’ appointments and chemo appointments.”
Claire has always had a passion for design and graduated from Leeds University with a degree in textiles management. She spent 20 years working as a mass market clothing importer before starting her business making bespoke dresses.
Visit www.chemoheadwear.co.uk for more information about her designs.
The new awards celebrate remarkable people doing incredible things in the cancer community. They were launched by Live Better With, an award-winning online platform where cancer patients and their loved ones can find products and information to help with the symptoms and side effects of living with cancer.
Award nominations were made by the public and voted on by a panel of expert judges. For more information, visit www.livebetterwith.com