A KIND-HEARTED mother is hoping to save struggling parents from forking out by giving away prom suits and dresses for free.

Sandra Martin has around 100 prom dresses and around 40 suits all ready to be handed over to youngsters who will be leaving school this summer.

And she’s encouraging parents and their children not to be shy in coming forward and seeing whether they can find something suitable for their big day.

The mother of two from Great Notley said: “It all came about through selfish means really because I was looking to sell some old ball dresses online.

“But one of my friends said not to do that and suggested giving them away instead because it could end up just being sold on for more money.

“Before I knew it I had people coming to me saying that had dresses they wanted to give away too and it snowballed from there.

“I’m hoping it’s something that can really grow and that people elsewhere decide to do something similar - I know there’s a lady in Wells, in Somerset, who has decided to do it and next year we’ll have venues in Braintree, Chelmsford and Clacton too.”

Sandra, 53, has two sons, a 20-year-old and a nine-year-old and said she is familiar with how expensive the leaving school celebrations can be.

She said: “Before you know it you’re having to buy a suit or a dress and organise transport and fake tan and everything else and suddenly you’re looking at about £200.

“It’s a lot to deal with and there are a lot of people out there who don’t have that kind of money to spend on a prom.

“So this is about helping people and making sure that nobody has to miss out. We’re keeping it as a community thing and we don’t want any money changing hands.

“It’s all anonymous and we want to protect the identities of the people who need this service.”

The next giveaway will take place at The Hub at the Newlands Centre, in Witham, on Sunday, March 24, from 11am until 2pm.

Tina Townsend, from the hub, said: “It’s an absolutely amazing thing to do. Proms cost too much - when you add up all of the expenses which go into it it is ridiculous.

“For the sake of protecting those involved we thought it would be good to offer an actual venue and the hub is sitting there ready to be used.”

Anyone who is interested in donating items or wants more information should call 0845 860 1358.