You shall go to the ball
6 November 2018 | Wales
Llandudno’s real life Fairy Godmother.
She’s only young herself but kind-hearted Ally Elouise has helped make the dreams come true of hundreds of teenage girls in her local community.
The 23-year-old was at university studying law when she saw a television programme about families struggling financially. She was particularly moved by the story of a teenager who couldn’t afford to attend her school prom.
Despite the pressures of her studies, she dedicated her spare time to making prom dreams come true by lending gowns to girls who would otherwise miss out.
Using money her parents had saved for her 21st birthday, she bought 10 prom dresses from charity shops, so girls whose parents can’t afford to buy a dress could borrow one for free. And when people help people, everyone benefits.
Now, nearly four years later, Ally has a collection of more than 1,000 dresses and has helped more than 100 girls enjoy the long-awaited final night of their school careers.
Ally, from Llandudno, who now works in an estate agent in Liverpool, said: “The end of Year 11 prom is a really big thing for many students.
“But while parents who can afford it splash out on fancy dresses and suits for their children, for those whose parents are less well-off it can be a really distressing time.
“Many girls prefer not to go to the prom at all rather than have to go around charity shops trying to find one they can afford.”
Ally said the anonymity of looking through her collection of dresses on her Prom Ally website and arranging to borrow the dress by email helps girls who would otherwise feel self-conscious.
But she has also been a friend to many of the teenagers, helping them through tough times by giving sisterly advice.
She said: “It’s really gratifying to receive messages from the girls telling me how special they felt in their dress, or sending me photos of themselves on the night.
“The girls identify with me, probably because from the way I message them they can tell I am close to their age, and some have kept in touch, opening up to me about being bullied at school and other problems.
“Allowing them to look and feel like a princess on prom night is more than just dressing up, it’s about empowering them and showing them how much they are worth.”
Ally said she was recently contacted by a girl who was self-conscious about her size, so she went round personally to her house with some dresses for her to try on.
She remembers: “In the end I left her with a selection of different dresses. After her prom her mum sent me pictures of her looking stunning, with her hair and make-up, and told me how happy she had been on the night.”
Another girl who Ally helped, Bethany, 16, said she was “amazed” by the variety of dresses she could choose from after thinking she wouldn’t be able to make it to her school’s prom last June.
She said: “I went on the Prom Ally page and I really enjoyed looking through and picking out the ones I wanted to try on.
“I love the dress I chose and I felt it really suited me. The whole experience added to a wonderful prom for me and I’m really thankful.”
With so many dresses now piled up in her nan’s spare room, Ally is now hoping to move to a shop - and in June this year walked up Snowdon in a prom dress to raise money to pay for the extra costs.
As well as expanding her work to help more girls, she has already started to lend out suits for boys.
She said: “It’s not just about one night. Feeling beautiful on prom night is a real boost to many girls’ self-esteem, and that can last a lifetime. Now I’ve seen what a difference it makes I want to help as many young people as I can.”