The Prime Minister has today, 8 March, recognised Emma Willis MBE, from Gloucestershire, for supporting the rehabilitation of veterans and service personnel.
Emma Willis is one of the UK’s foremost shirt-makers who founded ‘Style for Soldiers’ in 2008 to provide bespoke clothing and walking sticks for Armed Forces members as part of their rehabilitation. After hearing a BBC Radio 4 Documentary about recovering veterans, Emma realised that donations of clothing could provide a vital boost to their wellbeing and confidence. Further recognising the benefit high-quality suits could have for veterans in securing job interviews and marking the transition to civilian life, she subsequently established ‘Style for Soldiers’ to specially design suits for service personnel, with assistance from leading English brands such as ‘Marks & Spencer’, ‘Russell and Bromley’ and ‘Lock and Co Hatters’. The charity has since provided over 750 suits, 100 shoes and several hundred hats to veterans, as well as facilitating work placements and holding regular events bringing together members for networking and peer support, with the charity working closely alongside the NHS Veterans Trauma network. ‘Style for Soldiers’ has also been supported by HRH The Prince of Wales, with leading fashion models including David Gandy serving as ambassadors for the charity.
Emma is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. Emma was invited to Downing Street to the International Women’s Day reception, where she received her award and met the Prime Minister.
In a personal letter to Emma, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
"The service you provide for veterans through ‘Style for Soldiers’ is having a truly transformative effect on their wellbeing and self-esteem. You are giving vital support to those who have made great sacrifices in the service of our country and you should feel incredibly proud of the difference you have made helping so many brave veterans adjust to civilian life."
"This is a great honour to receive a Points of Light award, particularly in the week marking International Women’s Day. To be thanked for one’s voluntary work like this is extremely encouraging and I am grateful to the Prime Minister for this recognition. To be able to offer support to our young injured service personnel is the greatest privilege, we owe them so much."
Emma is the 1138th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.
Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.