Wedding dresses are a hit with Big C

They called on Norfolk women to hand over the most precious piece of clothing in their wardrobe for a fundraising fashion show.

They called on Norfolk women to hand over the most precious piece of clothing in their wardrobe for a fundraising fashion show.

But staff at a local cancer charity have been given so many beautiful wedding dresses that they can now stock their own bridal boutique in Norwich.

The Big C had envisioned a trickle of gowns and accessories when it put out its unusual plea last month, with many women perhaps reluctant to part with a treasured memento of one of the most important days of her life.

Just days later, the charity for Norfolk and Waveney has been overwhelmed by the generous response and has enough stunning dresses, bridesmaid gowns and accessories to open a dedicated floor at its shop in Timberhill.

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The dresses - each with its own unique story - range from vintage 1950s frocks, to elaborate modern gowns and even a dress fashioned from a pair of curtains by a hard-up bride in the sixties.

Managers Rosemarie Bennett and Wendy Brown, who have had great fun sorting through the donations, said many of the 100 dresses are good enough to be worn again and to be given a new lease by future brides.

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Others may not make it down the aisle again but are a fascinating piece of fashion history from bygone wedding days - and perhaps perfect for a theatre group or film company.

“We have an absolutely beautiful modern dress in our window,” said Ms Brown, surrounded by dozens of dresses that will go on sale from next week.

“The lady who brought it in said she had paid £1,000 for it, and we are selling it for £250.

“We've still got another 60 to 80 to pick up from around north Norfolk.”

Ms Bennett added: “It's been incredible - we had five dresses brought in before 11am on one day alone, and we've had at least three or four every day.”

Staff at the shop steam-clean each dress and ask donors to fill in a card giving a brief detail of its history, although some of the items have been donated brand new by dressmakers and bridal shops.

Sharon Hulbert, the charity's communications manager, said: “Our managers have been hearing some fascinating stories when the dresses are donated.

“I think the cancer connection really inspired people, and they felt they could give up their dress if it was giving support to such a good cause.

“We are getting so many, and have more to pick up, that we thought we'd open our own bridal shop, and it looks fantastic.

“People should not think we've just got a load of naff charity shop dresses because they are really, really not, but they can get a stunning wedding dress for a fraction of the price new.

“We want to keep on promoting it and maybe it could be something that is unique to us.”

The dedicated bridal floor at the Big C charity shop on Timberhill, Norwich, will be officially opened by Anglia News's Clare Weller at 10.30am on Friday. Dresses are priced from £50 to £250.

Donations of wedding dresses

are still welcomed and can either be taken to the Timberhill shop or collected from anywhere in the county. Call 01603 619900 or visit

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