North Walsham dressmaker to the rescue for 9/11 New York concert frock

A chorister performing in a poignant 9/11 concert in New York on Sunday has praised the speed and skills of a north Norfolk dressmaker who whipped up an evening dress for the occasion at short notice.

North Walsham seamstress Emma Porter managed to create a long black gown out of material bought for a short dress in just four days.

The finished frock will be worn on the stage of New York's Lincoln Center by North Walsham woman Jenifer Eddison, nee Suffolk, during Sunday's 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center catastrophe.

Mrs Eddison went for her final fitting of the black wool-mix dress on Tuesday, 24 hours before flying out to America where she will join other members of Britain's largest choral society, The Really Big Chorus, to rehearse from scratch for the In Memoriam concert.

They will be performing Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, which will be conducted by the composer, and the American premiere performance of another of his works, For the Fallen.

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Rehearsals are due to begin on Saturday and Mrs Eddison, 73, who sings with the Mundesley Community Choir, said she had been putting in a lot of practise at home.

She had understood that women choristers would need a short black dress and had dug out an old 1976 pattern and bought material accordingly, hoping that one of two Norfolk dressmakers she had used in the past would be able to make the frock.

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But she discovered neither did the work any longer and also learned that women performers had to have long dresses.

Asking around her home town in desperation she heard about Ms Porter who is a partner in the new Elden and Porter women's and men's fashions shop on Market Place.

'I took my pattern and material to Emma and explained what I needed and she just said: 'I will try'. What she's done in so short a time is fantastic. I'm very happy with it,' said Mrs Eddison.

Ms Porter, 25, who gained an HND in dressmaking and design at Great Yarmouth College, said it had been a challenge to fit the pattern onto the material in such a way that there was enough for a long dress with full-length sleeves.

'When I heard that it was for such a special occasion, I felt I had to do it - I couldn't let her down,' said Ms Porter, who charged �50 for her efforts.

Soprano Mrs Eddison, who is a churchwarden at Thorpe Market Church, said she had been at a very low point in her life, helping family to run the Lawns Hotel bed and breakfast in Holt, on September 11 2001 when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers, killing more than 2,700 people.

She said: 'I remember walking through the kitchen and somebody said to me that a terrible thing had happened. I just knew I couldn't take on board any more at that point and I said: 'Don't tell me, I'm too busy.' I felt shame when I heard the details afterwards and I hope what I'm doing will make amends.'

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