Could you do with a fun night out? In 2019 the Society of Shoe Fitters will be celebrating its 60th year – Diamond Anniversary and we hope everyone will unite and help celebrate this amazing feat at the Footwear Awards Dinner on Sunday February 17th, hosted by Datateam/Footwear Today magazine.

Plans are afoot to make this event fun and enjoyable. Those attending will receive a goodie bag (items welcomed), with an additional competition ‘Age the Feet and Footwear’ sponsored by Start-rite – offering the winner *free shoes for the year (*T&C’s apply). There will be the much-loved Red & Black game, a casino and in addition a disco sponsored by the Children’s Foot Health Register, so everyone can stay and kick up their heels! It is hoped this will be the biggest get-together of retailers and suppliers for many years.
On occasion the SSF has struggled to survive, but with the help of numerous dedicated people on its Council, the SSF has helped thousands of people with their footwear, foot health and industry related enquiries. Not afraid to court controversy it successfully fought to keep VAT off children’s shoes together with Clarks and Start-rite, and bravely stood firm against fitted brands selling online (you can’t win them all!). When invited to parliament in 2016 MPs suggested the SSF should become a registered charity, and in May 2018 it was granted registered charity status – no. 1178413. Now we are a charity we hope more companies will step forward and offer financial support to retain and improve the services we provide. There are company Trust Funds lying dormant which could be put to good use – either sponsoring courses for new/smaller shops, creating employment, educating both young and old – or simply helping to promote skilful shoe fitting.

President Rosemary Gray tells us ‘I have been a part of this organisation for many years and proud to be President. I have seen the good work it does, and most would be amazed at the problems we encounter and resolve on a weekly basis. We create professional shoe fitters, assist the footwear industry, but most importantly provide the public with much needed assistance and information too.

Since 2007 our National Shoe Fitting Week campaign brought onboard podiatrists and orthotists and despite the cost implication this initiative is open to all. We are all too aware that cheaply made footwear sold on a self-service basis has closed many good doors – extremely boring to many from the fashion side of the industry, but the impact on public health is hugely ignored and a massive ongoing cost implication to the NHS. There are now 169 foot amputations weekly (Diabetes UK) which is increasing rapidly. Professional hands-on shoe fitting cannot be replicated successfully despite many trying to simplify it with electronic gauges and apps. Shoe fitting remains the best USP (unique selling point) for any company – both for children and adults. Adult shoe stores really ought to invest in fitting courses and membership for staff too, as many podiatrists are adding a retail arm to their clinics considering shop closures and looking for SSF members.

Rosemary added ‘The trade already has a charity – Footwear Friends but our charitable aim is vastly different, we endeavour to highlight those still working in the industry, health professionals and assist numerous members of the public – if we don’t no-one will! All contributions gratefully received, and gift aid/bequest forms are now available.’