Leeds woman's idea to help parents who will struggle to afford glitzy school prom dresses and suits

It's a landmark event in the social calendar for pupils across the Leeds '“ but the costs involved in attending the coveted school prom can sky-rocket with the pressure to look their glamourous best.

Mandy Dickinson pictured with her Prom Dresses, at her home at East Ardsley..28th February 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

But one woman from East Ardsley has made it her mission to ensure no-one misses out because of money and has set up a Facebook page called Time To Shine, to appeal for outfit donations.

In five months - and largely through word of mouth - Mandy Dickinson, 55, has managed to collect 68 dresses from generous folk who have been touched her campaign.

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Suits, she says, are proving harder to come by, but she has managed to get hold of one so far.

Mandy Dickinson pictured with her Prom Dresses, at her home at East Ardsley..28th February 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

She said: “I was watching a TV programme called ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ and they did a similar thing on there and I thought, ‘I can do that’.

“I set up the page on Facebook and added my friends and it’s just grown from there.

“I just wanted to help people who can’t afford these dresses. They have so much pressure to buy these expensive dresses for girls and suits for boys, I just wanted to take some of that pressure off parents who are struggling.

“It is expensive. One lady said she spent £700 on one dress. I’ve bought a couple of evening gowns myself and they’ve been about £200-300. If you have three or more kids, it gets very hard.”

Mandy Dickinson pictured with her Prom Dresses, at her home at East Ardsley..28th February 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

It’s the first such venture the grandmother-of-five has ever attempted and she is juggling it with her day job of working in a fish shop.

“I’ve never done anything like this before. But I’ve brought up three children on my own and I know how hard it is.”

Her current haul of dresses was given a major boost by the closure of the Gowns UK shop in Morley, with the owner kindly donating 20 dresses to the cause.

Another supporter who has donated a dress is Pippa Sharp, 42, from Pudsey, who wanted to find a worthy new owner of a dress she bought 18 months ago for a ball.

She said: “I really struggled to find something because of my size but I eventually found a gorgeous dress and it made me feel amazing.

“Since then I’ve been on a journey to lose weight and have so far lost three stone. While I’ve been doing this I’ve often thought about the dress and how I felt while wearing it.

“I would absolutely love to be able to gift it to someone. Prom dresses are very expensive and if you’re not slim very hard to find.

“I just want a young girl to feel good in the dress and enjoy the prom - particularly if they can’t afford to buy a dress.”

With proms not held until the end of the summer term, there is still plenty of time to donate - or apply to receive - the dresses or suits.

So far Mandy has given two away, including to a single mum of five children who was struggling to buy a dress for her 11-year-old.

Mandy encouraged anyone who needs an outfit to get in touch with her via email at [email protected] She currently has dresses from sizes six to 20.

She said: “I may get stories that aren’t genuine but that’s the risk I have to take. It’s not costing me anything.”

Mandy is also appealing for cash donations which she plans to use to help make dress alterations or meet the costs of hair and make up for the prom. To donate money, visit https://www.gofundme.com/make-it-shine