Friday, 25 March 2016


Alf Morris Lecture 2016: Andrew Marr and Jacke Ashley

Last week in St Pancras, London, The Able Label Founder Katie attended the second Alf Morris lecture.  The aptly named lecture titled ‘Stroke of fate: the politics of recovery’, saw guest speakers infamous broadcaster and journalist Jackie Ashley interview her husband and political television presenter Andrew Marr.

This was the very first time they had spoken publically as a couple about their experience. They discussed their own personal experiences with disability and highlighted the impact it has had on their shared lives after Andrew survived a major stroke in 2013.

Andrew joked that he used to say he “had everything in perfect balance - I worked too hard, I ran too fast and I drank too much… little did I know I was running straight into a wall”. He’d had TIA’s before but did not know what was happening to his body.

We heard about the moment his life changed as he realised he’d had a stoke. The morning after he felt unwell the night before, he woke up on the floor having fallen out of bed and struggled to get up. Progressing into the bathroom, he looked in the mirror and explained how he saw he had that “classic stroke, downward slope of the mouth”.  Andrew went to Jackie and said, “I think I’ve had a stroke” at which point Jackie screamed.

Alf Morris Lecture 2016: Andrew Marr and Jacke Ashley

The main message to come from the interview was that knowledge is key and ignorance is dangerous. Also, the importance practical help in keeping people with disabilities as independent as possible was emphasised too. Andrew and Jackie discussed how this must to start with rehabilitation as they both flagged that “This country is brilliant at keeping people alive. ‘We’ve kept you alive – now off you go’. It needs a switch of emphasis after coming out of hospital”. Andrew puts the basis of his recovery down to rigorous sessions of physiotherapy which he did not have nearly enough of before being released from hospital.

Andrew also highlighted how although he can now get his tie on himself, he remains unable to fasten the top button on his shirt and has forgotten how to tie a shoe lace. He emphasised how aids help you get so much independence back and he couldn’t get by without them explaining how “everything I do has been affected, it is extraordinarily tough… you are hit with a whole raft of problems”.
He advised how even the most basic pieces of equipment can make the difference between coping and not being able to cope. The difficulty is finding out about these things.

Jackie’s late father Jack Ashley became profoundly deaf which lead to him campaigning for disability rights and was instrumental in helping Alf Morris to get the Disability Discrimination Act passed in 1995. Now the Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living has been established to help people find out about the resources available to keep them independent, and to help them make choices and in Alf’s words, “adding life to years” rather than just years to life.

Find out more about it through the DLF website at

Wednesday, 9 March 2016


Our feature, shop the look, has been running a little while now. The aim is to break down key looks by item in order to build stylish, practical and versatile outfits that are all easier to dress.

Someone who saw the look and 'Shopped the Look' is Ann from Tunbridge Wells. Ann had been told she had Parkinson's, but this was identified in October as PSP. Misdiagnosis of PSP (ProgressiveSupranuclear Palsy) initially is common as it is a Parkinson's-like neurological condition caused by premature loss of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain.  It can affect balance, movement, vision, speech and swallowing. Currently around 4,000 people in the UK have a diagnosis of PSP. Ann in particular, flagged mobility, walking in particular but also dressing into clothing is proving to become more of a struggle.

Having heard about The Able Label at a group she attends, she contacted us to say 'how delighted she was to learn of our existence'. Ann particularly liked our ‘Shop the Look’ feature covering the white Imogen Shirt paired with the Debbie Maxi Skirt in navy look. We therefore took the clothes along to her group enabling her to try the shirt and maxi skirt on.

Shop the Look - white shirt with navy maxi skirt easy to dress
Shop the Look - easy dressing white shirt with navy maxi skirt

The shirt looks as though it is button fastening however with the buttons only for display, the shirt is in fact secured using Velcro at the center front. Particularly in white, the shirt is a staple piece they can be used to create a variety of looks - smart or casual. Likewise, the maxi skirt in navy is also a staple item, which can be layered around.

Neat on the shoulders with room from the waist down, the shirt was extremely flattering yet made Ann feel comfortable. The shirt fitted so well, Ann bought it in three of the four colours available. Initially unsure of the red, as soon as she tried it on, she loved it and the way it warmed her beautiful complexion. After following up to see how Ann was getting on with the shirts, she advised she found it ‘much easier to get on and off due to the stretchy fabric and also far simpler to fasten with Velcro’. She did give the 'top tip that to get a quicker and neater finish fastening the Velcro at the front, secure the first four Velcro squares before allowing the natural drape to align the remaining fastenings which you can then pat closed'.

The maxi skirt at 97cm / 38.2" was too long for Ann so for a small fee, we arranged for the skirt length to be reduced so she didn’t have the hassle of dealing with it. Actioning this quickly for Ann, she was able to take it away with her on a weeks stitching break. Eliminating the need to pull up from the ground, she found the wrap around skirt much easier than a regular skirt with balance required to dress into it reduced.

We leave you with an image of Ann having 'Shopped the Look'. I am sure you will agree how lovely she looks and what an inspiration she is.

To find to more about PSP, visit the PSP Association website 
If you would like to see the full range of The Able Label adaptive clothes, please click the link to visit our website.

Alternatively, if you would like some advice on what items may be best for you and your specific requirements, or to discuss alterations, please do contact us at

We would love to hear from you and are more than happy to help.

Ann 'Shopped the Look' - Imogen Shirt and Debbie Maxi Skirt
Ann 'Shopped the Look' wearing Imogen Shirt (Blossom White) and Debbie Maxi Skirt (Shibori Navy)

Tuesday, 1 March 2016


We have had several people call us for clarification about VAT exemption and whether it applies to them. Others have simply put through orders oblivious to the fact that they may be eligible for VAT exemption on The Able Label clothing.

We therefore wanted to help explain VAT exemption on our clothes to help with future orders.

What is VAT exemption?

VAT is a tax that you pay when you buy goods and services as a consumer within the European Union, including the UK. 20% is the standard rate for VAT. H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC) states that “equipment that has been designed solely for people with a disability, chronic or terminal illness or on the adaptation of equipment so they can use it can be VAT exempt”.  This means that they pay the retail price excluding VAT.

Who is entitled to VAT exemption?

As per HMRC wording, “people with a disability, chronic or terminal illness” can be VAT exempt. Chronically sick means that you have an illness that is likely to last a long time and disabled means substantially and permanently handicapped by illness or injury. Some disabilities covered by this include arthritis, diabetes, lupus, angina, parkinson’s, stroke, dementia, fibromyalgia, MS and ME.

Please be aware that VAT exemption does not apply to a frail elderly person who is otherwise able-bodied or any person who is only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.

The items must not be purchased for the general use of other able-bodied persons, they have to be for the own ‘personal and domestic use’ of the disabled individual.

What items are VAT exempt?

Only products shown with "excl VAT" prices are available for purchase with VAT exemption.

How do I claim?

To claim VAT exemption when placing an order is simple. When you are at checkout follow these three steps:

1.) Choose "VAT Exempt - United Kingdom" from the ‘country’ drop down options

2.)  Complete details fully for all boxes which state ‘Only required for VAT exemption’ on the right hand side of the checkout page.

3.) Tick the ‘Terms and Conditions’ box to confirm you have read and the VAT exemption and store terms and conditions and agree to these.

Please note we will only be able to dispatch VAT exempt orders once we have received a signed declaration with all details completed fully.

What HMRC require

The Government requires that you fill in a simple declaration setting out the nature of your disability and/or chronic or terminal illness. We are required to retain a copy of your declaration and it may be passed to HMRC as evidence of your eligibility.

The Able Label require no proof of your disability or a doctor’s letter, however you need to remember that it is an offence to falsely claim that you or someone you are buying for is eligible for VAT exemption under the guidelines.

What to do now?

If after reading this guide you are still unsure if you or the person you are buying for qualifies for VAT exemption then please read the HMRC guide, consult your doctor for clarification or email us at where we will be happy to help.