Images of stylish clothing made for soldiers and artwork made by veterans to go on display at Sheffield exhibition
For injured service personnel returning home from warzones, finding clothes may not be so easy – but one woman was determined to help.
Emma Willis MBE, who is a boutique bespoke shirtmaker with 20 years experience, launched Style for Soldiers, a charity focused on making smart shirts and regimental walking sticks for young men and women who have served at the sites of violent conflict and returned home with life changing physical and emotional injuries.
Images of just some of the many servicemen and women Emma has helped in the ten years since she launched her brand, wearing the shirts she had made for them, are to go on display in the city centre next week as part of en exhibition.
Emma said: “We have made clothes for over 700 injured servicemen and women over the last ten years.
“I set up the charity as a result of a documentary I heard, interviewing two young injured servicemen. I was deeply moved and upset by their courage in the face of unimaginable adversity.
“I was determined to try and do something to help, so thought of my shirts as the only thing I could give as I can make them bespoke to fit anyone. They would be a gift of thanks for their courage and sacrifice.”
The exhibition will also show images of Emma's visits to the former Headley Court Military Hospital, where she visited the patients to measure them for their shirts.
In the hope of getting more clothing for the patients, Emma approached various English brands to ask for their help too. M&S have now given over 750 suits, Russell & Bromley have given over 250 shoes, Burberry have given 200 trench coats and Lock & Co Hatters have given 100's of hats.
Her support has brought happiness to the service personnel and their families.
Emma added: “If you read the letters of thanks on our Style for Soldiers website you will how many we receive and how humbling the are in their gratitude and appreciation.
“Some words that will always stay in my mind are from a mother – ‘thank you for the taking the trouble to measure my son for his shirt in hospital. It is a beautiful shirt for a very beautiful boy’.
Several short films made by veterans will also be shown, alongside artwork made by veterans too – including the work of soldier artists Dougie Adams and Stewart Hill, who are both local to Sheffield.
They have been painting the city and surrounding landscapes, and their work will be on sale to the public throughout the week.
The Style for Soldiers' Art in the Aftermath Exhibition is open July 22 - 27 from 10am to 6pm at 15 Barkers Pool. It is on display in support of the Sheffield Invictus UK Trials 2019. For more information about the exhibition or the charity, please visit www.emmawillis.com and also www.styleforsoldiers.com.