WITH the average prom dress costing more than £500, an Andover mum has come up with a way of helping young girls look amazing on their big night without the hefty price tag.

Kate Lambert launched Andover Free Prom Dress Loan on social media in May, after reading about the huge cost for girls attending their school prom.

The 42-year-old mother-of-two said: “I had seen something in the media about the pressure of prom and how much it costs. For girls at that crucial age there is so much peer pressure and I have a daughter myself who has a prom next year and the girls all talk about what dress they will have and it’s very costly.”

Kate woke up one morning and decided to do something to help those girls who might not be able to afford a prom dress, explaining: “Dresses can cost £300 or £400, or even more and not everyone has that money available. People have to put them on credit cards or save for a long time and parents feel the pressure of wanting to give their daughter the perfect dress at the end of school but it’s a horrific amount of money.

“I have a friend who is a teacher who said she had two girls in school who weren’t going to prom because they couldn’t afford a dress and she put something on social media and all these ladies came forward with dresses. I started to wonder if that’s just in her school what would it be like locally. I thought about it and the next day I woke up and thought, ‘I could plan and plan but unless I see if people will donate dresses, I won’t know if it will take off’, so I went straight online and created a Facebook page.”

Within six days Kate had more than 20 dresses donated, and within just a few weeks she has more than 30 dresses.

Kate was overwhelmed by the response from the local community, saying: “There are girls who went to their prom a few years back who have donated their dresses, there are people of all different backgrounds and ages.”

The mum, who works full time in telecommunications, has spent her evenings and weekends collecting donated dresses, and is now getting in touch with local schools to arrange to bring them in for girls to try on.

“It’s good to know it may make a difference to girls who would otherwise miss out,” she said. “I have had absolutely beautiful dresses donated, a couple are from designer shops in London and these people have been so generous to donate them.”

Kate has kept a log of all the donations and will contact the original owners to let them know when their dress is loaned.

Once a girl has worn the dress to her prom, the idea is she will return it dry cleaned to be used again by someone else, and Ben’s Dry Cleaner’s in Andover has kindly offered anyone who loans one of the dresses 50 per cent discount on dry cleaning.

Kate said that if the idea becomes even bigger, she will have to consider finding somewhere else to store the dresses rather than at her home, adding: “I could have probably got triple what we have if I continued to keep posting on social media. People are sharing the message really quickly. It’s really taken off.”