Peterborough couple hope festival-goers are all ears for their creations to raise money for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice

Couple upcycle headbands to create ‘Ria’s Ears’

By Stephen Briggs
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 9:00 am
Ria on a stall selling the 'ears'
Ria on a stall selling the 'ears'

A couple from Peterborough are hoping festival-goers are all ears for their unique, handmade creations this summer, which will raise vital funds for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall hospice.

Ria and Paul Wise are the makers of Ria’s Ears – fun, upcycled headbands with attached furry ears to be worn at festivals and shows.

The hard-working husband and wife, who also run an IT business, buy most of the material to make the ears from their local Sue Ryder charity shops – choosing second hand clothes such as dresses, jumpers, coats and scarves. They also donate 10% of the money they make through sales to Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.

They were inspired to support the Peterborough hospice in memory of their mums. It is a charity close to their hearts, as Ria lost her mum, Val, when she was 17 and Paul’s mum, Sue, was cared for at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in 2012.

To date, the big hearted couple have raised £1,832.51 for the charity in addition to spending hundreds of pounds since 2018 purchasing clothing materials from Sue Ryder charity shops in Peterborough.

As keen festival fans, the sociable pair love nothing more than hopping in their VW campervan called ‘Sparky’, often with their rescue dog Breeze in tow (who is currently training to become a Therapy dog), and spending the summer in muddy fields.

After an especially busy season in 2017 they came up with the idea of making things they could take with them to sell.

“We went through things that rhymed with Ria and came up with ears,” laughed Ria. “I started making prototypes and quickly realised that I could make them out of material. I taught myself to sew, starting from scratch. It took a lot of trial and error!”

“I wanted to involve Sue Ryder in some way as the charity had been a massive part of our lives. I lost my mum to cancer when I was 17. We also lost Paul’s mum to cancer ten years ago and she was cared for at the hospice. We came up with the idea of buying clothes from our local Sue Ryder charity shops to make the ears, and then when we sell them we give a minimum of 10% back.”

Ria’s Ears come in all shapes, sizes and styles – including floral, animal print, they all come with flashing inner ear lights – and at Christmas, creations with antlers.

Paul said: “They are handmade and each one is different – no two are the same.

“Ria’s Ears started off as just a bit of a hobby, something we took to shows in the back of our camper van. Since then it has grown and evolved, and we are looking forward to a busy festival season this summer.”

Ria and Paul are currently working hard making the ears ahead of a jam-packed, exciting festival season. This summer they will take their stall to a number of events, including Glastonbury, Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Latitude.

“If you are going to Glastonbury, look out for our stall by the Meeting Point on the way to the Pyramid Stage!” added Paul.

Ria’s Ears has previously caught the attention of radio DJ Chris Moyles. Ria sent in a pair of ears for his producer Pippa to wear on her birthday, and they chatted about them on air.

“I’m very proud of what Ria’s Ears has become and to have raised so much for Sue Ryder while doing what we love. I hope we have made our mums proud,” said Ria. “We hope the funds we raise will be able to help other families when they need it most.”

Paul said: “Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice looked after my mum at the end of her life – she was only there for 18 hours, but the team were amazing.”

Ria said: “The care she received, and the aftercare for Paul and his brothers, was amazing. The support we had from Sue Ryder was invaluable. The staff were so special and caring – they really looked after us. They were very patient and made a difficult situation easier. Until you go through losing a loved one, you don’t know how awful it is and how much you need someone to help.”

Helen Kingston, Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, said: “A huge thank you to Ria and Paul for their on-going support and for raising vital funds and awareness of our hospice. It helps to make sure the compassionate care we give can continue – making room for the things that matter and filling families’ final days with love. We want to wish you lots of luck for the festival season – we hope it is a Ria-lly big success!”

To find out more about Ria’s Ears go to: www.riasears.co.uk.