Hampstead TV star Melanie Sykes hosts autism charity fashion show

Former model and TV star Melanie Sykes opened a children’s fashion show which raised �4,000 for an autism charity.

Sixty-five children from schools in Hampstead and Highgate strutted their stuff on the catwalk at newly-renovated St Stephen’s Church on Haverstock Hill on Sunday.

The TV star, who recently revealed her son Valentino has autism, opened the fashion bonanza with the help of organiser in-chief, 11-year-old Olivia Daly from Highgate School, who also has the condition.

Money raised will be donated to International Pre-autistic Network (IPAN), a charity based in Hampstead which helps families learn to deal with autism from an early age.

Ruthe Wainman, who helped organise the event, said: “It’s a subject which is very close to Melanie’s heart.

“She has been working with Dr Stella Acquarone (founder of IPAN) for six years and she has really got to understand her son’s condition and that’s what IPAN does.

“It’s not just for one person, it tries to help the whole family, because everyone has to live with it.”

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Melanie Sykes, who lives off Frognal in Hampstead, praised children and parents who braved the bad weather to attend the show.

Mrs Wainman said: “It was bitterly cold, but the children didn’t even think about it and just loved dressing up.”