A local charity, teamed up with North Ayrshire business, PrioritEyes and Saltcoats clothing store M&Co, to make dreams come true at the weekend.

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety, based in the former Barony St. John’s church and hall buildings in Ardrossan, held a fundraising Fashion Show was intended to help raise funds for some much needed renovation and repair work to the Barony St. John buildings but turned into something much, much more than that.

Over the last year, The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety (ScotCPS) has worked alongside various charities and businesses representing registered blind people as they developed a Big Lottery sponsored personal safety course specifically for the blind and visually impaired. One of these businesses was PrioritEyes, a North Ayrshire business that provides specialist rehabilitation and support for people who have low or no vision. And it was from PrioritEyes that ScotCPS got some of the “modelling” team for their Fashion Show.

The gathered audience of almost fifty people cheered and clapped as the models, many using long canes to guide them down the catwalk, strutted their stuff.

Alan Bell from ScotCPS explained; “When I saw Gillian and the rest of the PrioritEyes models come onto the catwalk, I got a lump in my throat. The woman sat next to me burst into tears. It was a very emotional experience and I was so proud to be involved in it.”

Gillian Morrow from Kilwinning who, as well as losing her sight within the last year, has also recently underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer, commented; “I have had a gruelling time with the cancer treatment and at one point I had to move out of my family home to a flat as I couldn’t cope with how it was affecting my family. Although my husband and children are extremely supportive, this fashion show was invaluable for me. I know that sounds like an exaggeration but after being bed bound, I was in a wheelchair for some time and I only got my long cane mobility training on Wednesday, so this was the first time I have been able to participate in anything since December. I can’t describe what a positive effect this day has had on me. It’s a massive “one-off” experience that has made me feel like my old self again.”

14-year-old, visually impaired Elle McCreadie from Failford said: “Today was really fun – a totally different experience for me and a great way of raising awareness for the charity and their work with visually impaired people. It felt really good to be wearing different clothes and doing something I haven’t done before.”

Registered blind founder of PrioritEyes, Norma Bailey, added: “It was fantastic that so many people with low or no vision were involved in this event. Dressing in terrific outfits, walking the catwalk with our long canes and hearing the cheers of the audience, made it an amazing experience for us all and a wonderful day to remember.”

M&Co Assistant Manager, Lorraine Featherstonehaugh said: “We were delighted to host this event, especially with the many local connections such as Dance Mafia but having visually impaired models

from PrioritEyes made this Show extra special. We were delighted to make many people’s wishes come true and give them the opportunity to be models for the day. We love getting involved with the community and we’re always happy to help local charities.”

Raffle prizes for the event were donated by various local businesses including M&Co, The Kandy Bar Bakery, Garfield’s, P&M Property Services, The Saltcot, Cassandara’s Café, Saltcoats Tesco, Stevenston Morrisons, B&M, The Red Squirrel, A. Lothian Butchers and Belhaven Pubs & Restaurants.

The Fashion Show raised a fantastic £615.45.

Alan added: “I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in making this day happen from the businesses who donated raffle prizes to M&Co for allowing us to run the event in their store, our trustees and volunteers who helped organise the day, all the people who came to watch and support the event and especially the models. Thank you all for making this such a memorable day.”

For more information on the Fashion Show and what the fundraising day has managed to finance, check out the charity’s Facebook page on www.Facebook.com/ScotCPS