Over 500 people flocked to Open on Bank Plain in Norwich last night to be inspired by an evening of breast cancer survivors strutting down the catwalk in aid of the support charity Keeping Abreast.

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"Keeping Abreast is about women regaining something. It really is more than a fashion show."

Co-founder of Keeping Abreast, Anna Beckingham

The fashion show, which has reached its third year, featured 26 women who have all experienced breast cancer and bravely chose to take to the stage as models to support others who are going through similar situations.

Organised by five-year-old Norwich-based charity Keeping Abreast, the show saw energetic dance routines performed to rock, hip-hop, and pop music, choreographed by artistic director Stephen Knights, as well as touching stories from patients, family members, and doctors.

Co-founder Anna Beckingham, 43, from Reepham, helped set up the charity in September 2007 after she had breast cancer, with Beverley Birritteri, also a breast cancer patient, and a breast reconstruction nurse specialist at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Ruth Harcourt.

The trio said they recognised a need for women to meet and talk to others who have been through similar experiences surrounding breast reconstruction, and formed the charity to provide support for women at any stage throughout their diagnosis, treatment or surgery.

Ms Beckingham said at the show last night: “This evening just shows what these women have achieved, and it is a real confidence boost for the ladies.”

She added: “Keeping Abreast is about women regaining something. It really is more than a fashion show.”

And Mrs Harcourt stressed the importance of women affected by breast cancer to have some one to talk to.

The fashionistas shone under the bright lights in the city venue, wearing outfits from local shops, such as Vanilla on Ipswich Road, Catfish on Exchange Street and Philip Browne and John Lewis in the city centre.

The models said backstage that they were both excited and proud to be taking part in the show.

Louise Horner, 44, from Brundall was diagnosed recently with the cancer.

Coming off stage she described the show experience as “bloody brilliant”, and praised the support from the charity. The Gallery hairdressers based on Waterloo Road in north Norwich provided hair-care for the models for the third year running, and owner of the salon, Adrian Dunham, said the show wasn’t just about raising money for the charity, but also about raising awareness of their reconstructive work.

And hair stylist from his team, Mollie Cavell, from Marlingford, said: “I am so proud to be a part of something so big and so local.”

There are limited tickets left for tonight. Call Victoria on 07799 258084.

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