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Dress like a Duchess in the East Midlands

Press Release: 10th May 2013

People in the East Midlands are being invited to dress like a Duchess and support an East Midlands children’s hospice.

Emma, the Duchess of Rutland, has donated three exquisite outfits to Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People to sell in its three shops across the region.

Using material from Joel & Son Fabrics in London and made especially for a 1920s family party at Belvoir Castle, two cocktail dresses were created for the Duchess’ daughters by Oakham-based designer Lesley Cullen. The third dress, a long two-piece evening gown, comes from a Los Angeles stylist and was worn by the Duchess.

Each dress will be valued accordingly and displayed in the windows of the Rainbows’ shops in Matlock, Blaby and Melton from Thursday 16 May and on Saturday 20 May, the dresses go on sale on a first come first served basis. Money raised at the shops helps to fund the Loughborough-based Hospice which supports children with life-limited illnesses and their families.

Karen Bilsby, head of retail at Rainbows, said: “We really appreciate the Duchess parting with such valuable and important outfits; it is very generous of her.  Our shops always need stock donations and we hope this gesture will encourage everyone in the East Midlands to have a look through their wardrobe for a special outfit they no longer wear that could be donated to one of our shops to raise valuable funds.”

Over the years the Duchess, who is president of Rainbows, and her family have staged events at Belvoir Castle, visited children at the Hospice and carried out fundraising events.

She said: “The dresses were from a collection stashed away in the tower and I am delighted to donate these creations to the Rainbows’ shops and hope that someone enjoys wearing them. Rainbows is such a worthwhile cause, which I am delighted to support. As a mother myself I can understand how fragile the health of a child can be and I hope others throughout the East Midlands will support Rainbows and think about donating clothes that they no longer wear.”

Lesley Cullen, who has been designing for 30 years, added: “It is wonderful to design dresses for the Duchess and her family and I appreciate she can’t be seen in her outfits on too many occasions. Therefore I am delighted that the dresses I created for her family can go to a new home and be worn, and enjoyed, by others.”

For more information on Rainbows shops visit or contact Karen Bilsby, head of retail at Rainbows, on 01509 638000.




Photo opportunity

If you would like to take a photograph of the dress in the shop, please contact your local shop, details available here, to arrange a suitable time.

For further information, please contact Karen Payne on karen.payne or 01509 638024.


About Rainbows Hospice for Children & Young People

Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People covers the whole of the East Midlands, although it is based in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

It was founded by Gail and Harry Moore, whose daughter, Laura, had died of Leukaemia in 1989. Laura's favourite thing in the world was a rainbow.

Since its official opening in April 1995 by HRH Prince of Wales, hundreds of life-limited children, young people, their families, siblings, relatives and friends from across the East Midlands have used the hospice.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to be told their child will die before them. But for an estimated 20,000 families across the UK, this is a reality. Some of these children will die when they’re very young, others will deteriorate slowly over a number of years.

In most cases, full-time care falls to the parents – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not surprisingly the whole family is under huge emotional, physical and financial strain.

Rainbows helps children and families in these situations with the emotional and physical challenges they face, helping them to make the most of life.