David Shilling's mother was born in St John's wood in London and died in 1999. When David was still at school she was operated on for breast cancer and it was thought she might have no more than 6 months to live. In fact she lived thirty more years, and survived several more cancer operations.

Mrs ShillingDavid's father Ronald died in 1988. He had served in the war in the County of London Yeomanry and was captured by the Italian army , escaped and was captured by the German Army and reported missing presumed dead.

Mrs Shilling became a much-loved British institution, with the press and public fondly nicknaming her "The Ascot Mascot". After the first hat which was three foot wide in black and white tulle, with a matching frilled shawl and mini coatdress, the hats became more flamboyant in style and size.

One year David's design outgrew Ronald Shilling's long wheel based Rolls Royce, so the hat had to follow in a van!


Some of the most memorable Ascot hats included: