A hat that travelled from Orange to London

·2-min read

A sleek black hat with an elegant ribbon and the tilt of an Akubra sits on Shanna Whan's head.

It is not just any hat. Beneath the finery worn to Queen Elizabeth II's funeral lies a story of country women coming together.

Ms Whan, the founder of the Sober in the Country charity, was one of 10 Australians invited by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to attend Monday's funeral at Westminster Abbey in London.

Last week, Ms Whan was preparing to fly out of Sydney when she posted a request on social media to find a hat and a frock to meet the strict formal dress code.

She was inundated with offers of help, including from members of the 46,000-strong Chat 10 Looks 3 Facebook community group, a spin-off of journalists Leigh Sales' and Annabel Crabb's podcast.

The message reached Fiona Schofield, a milliner 250km away in central west NSW, through a friend who was planning to travel to Sydney the next day.

Ms Schofield raced from a meeting to her studio to put a hat together in a matter of hours, pulling adornments off her shelves and working late into the evening.

She dropped it to her friend, who drove to the city and handed the creation to Ms Whan in a humble brown hat box.

"It was a beautiful swell of country community. It just all fell into place," Ms Schofield said from her home in Orange on Monday.

"I adore the Queen and what she represents. So to be such a tiny, minuscule, little part of this is really quite extraordinary."

Ms Whan, a rural woman awarded the Australian of the Year Local Hero award for her advocacy to change the culture of drinking in country Australia, expressed gratitude online for having two milliners donate their wares.

The Fiona Schofield hat, she said, felt like a "nod to the bush" for its Akubra-like shape. A hat donated by renowned milliner Neil Grigg was worn by another Australian attendee, Saba Abraham.

Mr Grigg taught Ms Schofield at college, a connection that feels particularly poignant.

"My heart feels very big and full, for so many different reasons around this hat," Ms Schofield said.

The designer said she admires Ms Whan and feels a connection from afar.

"She tells her stories from the heart and soul authentically - that's very much what I'm about too," Ms Schofield said.

"I make hats, that's not anything amazing in the grand scheme of things, but I believe a good hat becomes about the connection you make with the wearer.

"That comes through in how they feel when they wear the hat.

"I aim for every hat to make a woman feel really good."