Coloured ribbons were once the province of maypoles and little girls' plaits, but they have taken on a whole new significance in recent times. It started in 1979 with the storming of the American Embassy in Teheran and the capture of 66 American hostages. The song 'Tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree', became the anthem for the whole 444 day vigil until the hostages were released and brought home. During that time, yellow ribbons were tied round trees all over the USA. The tying of yellow ribbons was repeated during the first Gulf War , and has now come to represent a symbol of hope for anyone away from home under adverse conditions.

The wearing of a red ribbon shows your support for the 42 million people across the world, who are living under the shadow of AIDS/HIV. The Ribbon Project was conceived in 1991, by a group of designers in New York who wanted to recognize and honour friends who had died of AIDS. They also wanted to publicize the need for more research. The colour red was chosen for its connection with blood and passion. The red ribbon made its public debut in 1991 at the Tony Awards, when it was worn by Jeremy Irons, who was the host for the event .

Pink ribbon is for breast cancer. The pink ribbon campaign began in 1993 and stands not only for awareness, but also for the sisterhood that will help women to survive and eventually conquer the disease. Companies supporting the pink ribbon campaign in the United Kingdom include Woman and Home magazine, Ann Summers, Royal Doulton, Asda, BhS, Boots the chemist and