For young mum-of-three Mandie Nickels, her wedding dress was to be treasured for ever, an item of such sentimental value that she would never wish to part with it.
But when her mum, Kim, sadly passed away from cancer in June, the 27-year-old decided to raffle off her wedding dress to raise funds for the hospice which cared for her mum in the last days of her life.
“Mum was only 50 when she died. When she was diagnosed with cancer it was at the terminal stage. It had started in the bladder and had spread to her other organs.
“But you wouldn’t have known anything was wrong with her. She travelled between home and the Cancer Care Centre in Belfast to get her treatment; she went about her business.”
When Mandie decided she would promote the raffle via Facebook, having created a page dedicated to encouraging brides-to-be to view her dress, she was contacted by a woman from Poleglass who kindly offered to donate a wedding dress to help Mandie in her quest to raise hospice funds.
“It was very kind. This woman was a stranger and she just contacted me out of the blue. She said that she had a dress which had never been worn. And it’s a beautiful dress with stunning detail in lace,” revealed Mandie.
As for her own dress, Mandie describes it as the archetypal “fairytale” gown. “It is one of the top-sellers,” she continued. “It’s still available to buy in wedding dress boutiques. So it is a popular design.
“I wanted to give women the chance to get a wedding dress that perhaps they have always wanted but was maybe out of their budget.”
She hopes to sell as many raffle tickets as she can, as a way of saying thank-you to Newry Hospice and the nurses who cared for her mum so much. “The Marie Curie nurses were lovely.
“They cared for my mum so much and they we’re lovely to us; they talked away to us as if they had known us for months,” explained Mandie.