Leeds hospice’s appeal to trace wedding dress donor

Vintage wedding dress donated St Gemma's Hospice charity shop in Garforth, modelled by area manager of St Gemma's charity shops Aysha Alton.
Vintage wedding dress donated St Gemma's Hospice charity shop in Garforth, modelled by area manager of St Gemma's charity shops Aysha Alton.
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A vintage wedding dress donated to a Leeds charity shop with a touching note about its previous owner has captured hearts across the world.

Staff at St Gemma’s Hospice are now trying to trace the mystery man who donated his wife’s wedding dress to their Garforth charity shop with a note about the “happy years” he spent with his bride.

The touching note found pinned to the dress.

The touching note found pinned to the dress.

It reads: “I wish any lady who takes this dress to have a life with her loved one, 56 years, like I did. Happy years. I was lucky man to marry a lady like mine.”

The hospice’s online appeal has received responses from America and beyond as vintage buyers moved by the message clamour to snap it up.

The dress is now listed on the hospice’s Ebay account to give everyone the chance of owning it.

Nicola Woodgate, communications manager at the Moortown hospice, said: “It’s gone bonkers online.

“We’ve had hundreds of likes and shares on social media and have had messages from America and other places abroad to ask if they can buy it. So we thought the best thing to do was put it on our Ebay account for a week.

“It’s a really beautiful dress - and a very unusual piece to get donated into a shop. It was also donated with the corset underneath.

“We knew it was something special and clearly from the reaction we’ve had, we were right.”

She explained how the stunning garment came to be found.

“One of our volunteers received it from someone earlier in the week - they don’t know who - and when they got it out they noticed the lovely note pinned to it.

“I think that makes it more special. It’s obviously got happy memories associated with it.

“It would be lovely to find him, to find out what his story is and so we can thank him properly.”

St Gemma’s Hospice has recently opened a second shop on Main Street in Garforth, with the original shop now set up for special occasion wear, including bridal.

Mrs Woodgate said: “This dress was donated in the first week. So we don’t know whether he’s local and lives in the area and perhaps saw that we were having a shop for special occasion wear and thought ‘now’s the time to part with it’.

“We’d just like to find him to find out.”

One of the members of staff at St Gemma’s Hospice, who is a fan of vintage clothes, estimates the dress dates back to the 1940s or 1950s and suggests it might have been custom-made, due to a lack of labelling on it.

Hospice bosses posted the dress appeal on their Twitter and Facebook pages - and the online reaction shows how the story has touched hearts across the land.

Twitter user ‘GloriousFood’ wrote: “Been chopping onions but reading this still made me a bit teary - lovely note.”

Catrina Walters wrote on the hospice’s Facebook page: “This is such a lovely story, I do hope the gentleman is able to know who buys it, and further hope that it can stay local!”

And Janet Stinton posted: “Gorgeous dress and lovely story. Hope it makes you a lot of money.”

Mrs Woodgate added: “It really is a beautiful piece, with intricate materials and netting.

“Every penny we raise will support the vital work of St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds so the legacy of this amazing dress will live on. It really is stunning and we would love to see a future bride wearing it on her special day.’

Are you, or do you know, the man who donated the dress? Contact the YEP newsdesk on 0113 238 8248 or contact the hospice on 0113 2185555.

To follow the bidding on the dress visit www.ebay.co.uk/usr/stgemmasshop.

***A year ago, the YEP helped track down the widower behind another wedding dress donation, this time to the Sue Ryder store on Otley Road in Headingley.

Charity chiefs wanted to track down the donor of the navy blue vintage bridal gown and issued an appeal through the pages of the YEP in March 2014.

The publicity solved the mystery and Gordon ‘Dick’ Dickinson, 86, was revealed as the anonymous benefector.

He explained he wanted his late wife Peggy’s dress to go to a place where “it would be appreciated” and added: “I’m a bit lost for words. I never thought it would cause so much fuss!”