Rainbows brighten Ascot in lock-down

Livery milliners join Royal Ascot Campaign to raise funds for front-line charities

For the first time since becoming a ‘royal week’ in 1911, the five-day 2020 Royal Ascot will not be open to visitors.  However, Royal Ascot, together with the British Hat Guild, have launched a campaign to inspire seasoned racegoers and raise money for four front-line charities: The National Emergencies’ Trust Relief Fund, NHS Charities Together, The Care Workers’ Charity and the Berkshire Community Foundation.  

Stephen Jones OBE, has invited leading British milliners to create a bespoke hat or headpiece which must feature the nation’s instantly recognisable rainbow image, reflecting the gratitude owed to the NHS and front-line workers. Joining Stephen in this initiative are Judy Bentinck, Edwina Ibbotson, Lock & Co. and Rachel Trevor-Morgan from The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers.  Their creations will then be auctioned online throughout the week of Royal Ascot at Home and all the money raised will be added to the charities’ fund.




Hats by Edwina Ibbotson [left] and Judy Bentink [right]

The auction starts at 09.00 on Tuesday, 16th June 2020. please use https://www.ascot.co.uk/millinery-auction to see the hats on offer, and use https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AscotRacecourse to donate.

Photographs courtesy of The British Hat Guild & the individual Milliners

Judy Bentinck is making bags and masks for the NHS

“They have wire over the nose to reduce any spray”-

Fellow Feltmaker, Judy Bentinck is making bags and masks for the NHS (not from felt).

She reports: –

It all started when my husband wanted a mask to wear to go to Waitrose at the beginning of lockdown. I’d been recommended a mask made from Miele hoover bags which have a high fibre density, and therefore, make a good filter. Fortunately, we have a Miele, so I made one up for Tim, myself and members of the family. I then discovered peoples_masks on Instagram and started making fabric ones for them. They have various collection centres around our part of north London and need a huge number of masks. Even those just made of fabric cut down the force of the spray of infected droplets and coughs.


I then came across a call-out for pillowcases on my local Nextdoor site to be collected and converted into laundry bags for NHS scrubs. After a quick search through my airing cupboard, I found several spare cases and got to work. I now alternate between masks and making up bags from unwanted duvet covers as I’ve run out of pillowcases and other spare fabric.

A designer friend has organised a group of south London designers to make gowns to go over scrubs. Other friends are making scrubs and others are making visors (Visor Army). The problem is having enough materials. I have donated for fabric for scrubs (Scrub Hub) but having material at home is such a great way to help. I think it might be time to have that sort out in the wardrobe to find fabric for the next batch of masks!

So, we can all do our part. Help the City help the NHS

Shared memories of the many Feltmakers from the 2019 Lord Mayor’s Show

Out of the chaos came order!  Assembling in Aldersgate St., it never seemed likely that such a collection of colours, movement, noise and dress (whether costume or fancy dress) could be fused into a single parade.

Feltmakes and Band from Switzerland parade at Lord Mayor’s Show assembly at M Restaurant on 9 November 2019, London, UK. Credit to Picture Capital

Following excellent briefings from Adrian and the Parade Marshall, the cry of “we’re off!” went up. The three vintage cars in front belched into life, bands broke into rhythm and the steam whistle on the traction engine behind went off at full throttle.

At first, we were timid with the crowds lining the pavements but before long we were exchanging “high fives”, shouts of “good morning” and doffing hats randomly, or by way of acknowledgement, to fellow hat wearers in the crowd.

My favourite moment (moments!) was managing to catch that unlikely person in the public, who must have been standing and watching for hours, managing to catch their eye with a wave and a smile, and getting a wave or smile back.  Also the high fives going on behind me!

Arriving at our assembly venue, it was clear exactly how much thought and personal effort by many had gone into our float.  The “commander” already dressed and directing the ranks, our float leader very much in control, and a huge plan unfolding.

But best of all was entering the dressing room where the “Hatting Team” distributed cloaks and beautiful hats for the ladies from boxes, labelled with size of head, hair colour, height, designer and so on.  So, so professional and clearly a massive amount of detail.

We boys were guided to get our act together ourselves, but the ladies looked particularly fantastic thanks to the Hatting Team. It was quite clear at that point that our Livery is no ordinary one.  We didn’t just order placards off the internet and wander through the City streets; our Livery was there, writ large, with a fabulous float and Model T Fords to take the less mobile, in force with the WAAG!

Amid a joyous cacophony of sound, both musical and applause, the Lord Mayor’s procession wound its way around the City. We Feltmakers were delighted and proud to have one of our own Liverymen, Alderman William Russell, as Lord Mayor this year. The enjoyment and fun of being involved was unmissable – a very memorable day!

My overarching memory of the day was that the Feltmakers’ float was, once again, a “class act”, way ahead of any of the other livery company floats, with beautiful vehicles and banners serving as a stage for we, elegantly-attired, walkers to strut our stuff in front of the Lord Mayor and thousands of spectators looking on appreciatively.

I have a series of mini memories, including walking alongside Ian Wright, to my left, with his fearsome gauntlets, and Nick Lee, to my right, who quipped, when I observed that all the hand-waving was no good for my golf drive, that maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing! Adrian Gubby was magnificent as our commander, bringing serene order where there could so easily have been chaos, and Gilly, our Master, so warmly articulate in everything she said in getting us underway and thanking the Waag in M Restaurant for their magnificent hospitality. Finally, who could forget our agile photographer who seemed to be in about four places all at once?

It was absolutely incredible that such a huge show can run so smoothly without any obvious hitches – the planning that goes into organising such an event is phenomenal.

As well as being great fun, it is and was a huge privilege to be able take part in something so special as the Lord Mayor’s Show. As one of back row of marchers, who happened to be placed on the outside, it was a real pleasure to be able to greet some of those who had come to watch the procession with ‘Good morning’, sometimes to ‘touch hands’ with youngsters holding out theirs in greeting, and of course waving one’s hat to one and all in salutation. Located where we were, we could see all of our own float, our fellow marchers preceded by the three Model T Fords, and ahead of us, our friends from the Waag and their band.

I was later surprised and delighted by the coincidence of friends at home turning on the television news at just the right time, and seeing us all marching together, even recognising me waving my Tricorn!

But the most special moment, which really highlighted to me the privilege of being part of the day, was immediately after the march was over and we were walking back to refresh ourselves, and change. For a blind Asian girl and her ‘minder’, an older Englishman, asked me to stop so that she could actually touch my dark blue woollen cape, and its badge, and so experience at first hand just a tiny part of what her colleague had been telling her as the day progressed. I then leant forwards and invited her to touch my Tricorn hat, and she exclaimed with joy when she felt the feather in it, as well as remarking on the shape and texture. I asked her name and where she was from and learned that she came from South Korea, although her English was excellent. In response to my next question she confirmed that she belonged to the Presbyterian Church of Korea. We parted friends, acknowledging our common faith, and I felt humbled that we, who have so much and had enjoyed ourselves so hugely, can be taking part in something that is so special that someone from another land who cannot see, also wants to share in it so much.

What a great coming together of the Feltmakers and Waag kindred spirits.  It was a superb weekend and a great thank you to all the organising committee.

Experiences such as Saturday, make up my collage of ‘happy thoughts’.  I was most definitely privileged to be a beneficiary of the efforts made by the organising committee and the hospitality of the Waag, who’s energy was magnificent. A wonderful day indeed.

My most treasured memory [says Lady Gilly Yarrow Master Feltmaker]was probably being interviewed by the BBC and being able to put the Feltmakers and their support for hatting on the telly! Also marching along the streets of London to the jolly Waag band, which somehow put a spring in our steps and meant my feet didn’t hurt as much as I thought they would