Edinburgh born Nick Ede, founder of Style for Stroke, was on his way to becoming an actor when his life was changed forever by the loss of his mother when he was just 23. Her death to a stroke, a disease he knew relatively little about, inspired him to turn his creative flair to philanthropy.
His ongoing work with the charity Stroke Association sees him combine fashion, celebrity and public relations to create memorable projects which raise awareness for an important cause.
Having organised and hosted a selection of successful projects including A Night With Nick, Style for Stroke and now championing his own charity campaigns agency, Ede is a widely recognised philanthropist who has previously been awarded the honourary Life After Stroke award.
He was also named Fashion Philanthropist of the year at the recent Scottish Fashion Awards.
Having worked closely with projects including Jeans for Genes and the Princes Trust, the PR guru now focuses his attention on his own events including A Night With Nick and Style for Stroke.
A Night With Nick, now on its 18th year, is a project particularly close to his heart.
“People look forward to it and they all know why they are attending” he said.
“Over the years it has attracted over 200 celebrities including Kelly Rowland, Girls Aloud and Brooklyn Beckham. To see the buzz that the event attracts, and how for one night stroke is openly talked about - it will always be my favourite.”
Style for Stroke, the campaign which led to Ede’s win as Fashion Philanthropist of the Year, also saw him garner support from various famous faces.
The project built on the existing relationship he created between fashion and charity, a relationship which has proved to be a great way to raise awareness for the causes he believes in. “Fashion is instantly recognisable”, he explains. “You can use it as a springboard to educate and develop awareness. Brands like Gucci and their Chime for Change campaign are leaders in this field.”
In order to get the Style for Stroke message into public domain, Ede teamed up with online retailer Boohoo.com to create a wearable and affordable design.
“I’ve always been a fan of fast fashion and I admired Boohoo and the way they have grown as a business. I wanted the Style for Stroke #famouslastwords campaign to educate people on what stroke is.
“So many charity t-shirts are overpriced and only wearable once and I didn’t want this for my collections. Instead of asking celebrities to model the t-shirts I asked them for the words they would like to be known for - their #famouslastwords.”
Ede reached out to well-known stars including Mel B, Kelly Osbourne and Radio One presenter Sarah-Jane Crawford to get them involved in them project.
“The first collection was all about getting high profile stars with international appeal, so I went out to all the people I have met in the past and asked for their support and luckily they said yes.”
The t-shirts were bought by people aged from 10 to 70 years-old, to such success that the campaign will be running again this year with a focus on a younger audience. High profile bloggers and YouTubers like Zoella will be getting involved by offering Nick their #famouslastwords.
“I think it’s very important to get young people involved, we are so lucky that we have social media enabling people to help a little or a lot. It’s really important to tap into the conscious economy now and get people of all ages thinking about doing good,” he said.
Having recently further expanded his charity platform through the launch of stand alone agency EastofEden London, Ede and his team will now be tailor-making charity campaigns for a range of clients including the retailer Liberty, the Diana Award, BBC Children in Need, Text Santa and Eva Longoria. The aim of which is to use the formula he has already created to benefit other charities. He explains, “I hope to replicate it in other territories as I think we are offering a unique service to charities who want to make money, raise awareness and ultimately change social preconceptions.”
With a wealth of experience in PR and nearing 20 years worth of experience in the charity sector, Ede plans to continue to use his skills and passion to take his message to a global audience.
He said: “I have some big ideas that I hope will raise global awareness for issues close to my heart. I feel now that in my forties, all the things I did before were a great rehearsal and now it’s time to use those learnings to impact on people’s lives and do some great things! If it doesn’t work, I’m not scared, I’m happy to go back to selling theatre tickets - at least I get to see my favourite shows over and over again.”