Charity shop staff were left stunned when a mystery benefactor dropped off wedding gowns and mother-of-the-bride outfits worth tens of thousands of pounds.
The brand new wedding dresses would normally retail for up to £4,000, but brides-to-be won’t have to fork out more than £500 for one of the top designer gowns.
The 40 wedding gowns and 40 mother-of-the-bride outfits are now on sale at St Giles Hospice charity shop, Swadlincote, Derbyshire.
Shop manager Penny Lovatt said: ‘We were completely overwhelmed by the donation. We couldn’t believe our luck.
‘The dresses and outfits are leading brands and being brand new, it eans there are some lucky brides-to-be out there who will be able to walk down the aisle in style, happy in the knowledge they’ve saved themselves plenty of money.’
The mother-of-the- bride outfits have a high street value of £700 and can be bought at the charity shop for up to £125.
Most of the wedding gowns and mother-of-the-bride outfits are by top designers like Toi, Ellis, Frank Usher and John Charles.
The shop was also donated 100 pairs of beaded evening shoes and matching purses.
It is estimated that the donation could raise around £40,000 for the charity.
And Penny says buyers have no need to worry if the outfits don’t fit because the charity shop is able to offer an alteration service.
Penny revealed that because of the recession more brides and their mothers are getting kitted out for their big day at charity shops.
She said: ‘In the recession people are always looking for value for money. They are reluctant to go into debt to have a nice wedding and see shops like ours as a place to get a quality bargain.
‘The tide has really turned from when I first worked in the shop, seven years ago.
‘Back then, many of the brides wouldn’t have dreamed of revealing they’d bought their outfit from a hospice shop.
‘Now, we find customers go out of their way to spread the message about the high-quality outfits we sell – and the way the profits benefit local people who are seriously ill.’
Penny said that since the recession took hold, her charity shop’s bridal bargains have been worn at weddings around the world.
She said: ‘We’ve even had people pop in from Wales and Scotland, and our dresses have made appearances at weddings in South Africa, Kenya, Australia and New Zealand.
‘One customer from Wales already had a dress, but after calling in to the shop for a veil to go with it, she found another dress here, bought that and took her other dress back!”
Penny doesn’t know the identity of the mystery benefactor.
‘All I know is that they are someone who has had friends and relatives who have had cancer and are very appreciative of what we do,’ she said.