Llandudno group receives boost in donations and profile after support from Stephen Fry

A SOCIAL enterprise in Llandudno has enjoyed a sudden rise in donations and awareness after receiving support from the actor, broadcaster and writer, Stephen Fry.

‘Prom Ally CIC’, a non-profit organisation which offers free loans of prom dresses to students who could not otherwise afford one, as well as selling a range of books and other women’s and men’s clothes, is the project of Ally Elouise.

It was through a conversation Ally had at the shop with a regular customer, and pen friend of Stephen Fry, Ronnie Rowlands, that led to Fry making a £50 donation and tweeting his support for the charity.

Fry, who has 12.4 million Twitter followers, wrote on Sunday: “This is such a small idea, but so useful, kind and – in its own way – life-changing.

“Read what @PromAlly does here: www.promally.co.uk/about – then click the “donate” tab and send a little something to help gladden some hearts…”

Since then, Ally said the organisation has received roughly an extra £165 in donations, as well as making far more people aware of an enterprise which, Ronnie added, “no-one else in the UK” is doing.

Ally said: “I was talking to Ronnie just about how I was fundraising and getting enough money to keep running Prom Ally, and he said he actually knows Stephen Fry.

“The next day, I refreshed my phone and had loads of Twitter notifications and thought: ‘What’s going on?! I saw Stephen Fry was following Prom Ally and put a tweet up.

“He must’ve read about it and liked the idea, so he tweeted and donated £50, and then after that, more people started donating, so we got about £165 within two hours.

“When I saw the tweet, I was really shocked; he also sent me an email saying he thought it was a great idea, which was a shock!

“A few people messaged saying they’d seen the tweet and would like to donate dresses, and a few people said they work at schools and think it’s a really nice idea, and that they’d pass it on to the welfare department of their schools, so it’s had a really good response so far.”

Ally said the extra money received in the last few days will go towards paying the rent of the shop, which can be found at 23 Madoc Street, Llandudno (open 10am – 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday), as well as postage for the dresses sent to pupils, and other various running costs.

A GoFundMe page, set up to help raise money to afford the £9,000 in rent needed annually to keep Prom Ally at its current base, also received an extra donation, with the current total raised standing at £3,276 (www.gofundme.com/f/help-us-keep-the-prom-ally-shop-open).

Ronnie, a voiceover artist and audiobook narrator based in Llandudno, hopes the extra publicity Prom Ally has enjoyed in the last few days proves just as valuable in the long-term as the financial donations have done in the short-term.

Ronnie said: “I’ve been going every week for a couple of year now. I buy all my clothes from charity shops and don’t think people realise that the store is not just a dress store; she sells women’s and men’s clothes and books to finance the social enterprise.

“Stephen and I have been pen friends for about 13 years, and Ally told me about some of the struggles that she sometimes has.

“No-one else in the UK is doing what she does, and I think such a great enterprise deserves a much bigger profile.

“People associate Stephen with having a big brain, but he also has a very big heart, and I thought: “This sort of thing is right up his street”.

“I said to Ally that I’d drop him a line about it. He likes any enterprise that’s kind and helpful to the disadvantaged. I knew that if he was behind it, he would say something about it, and that’s exactly what happened.

“On a personal level, I like buying discount clothes and she sells really good clothes that I wear regularly.

“But on a more emotional level, I come from a poor background myself and knew a lot of disadvantaged kids at school.

“People don’t realise the huge difference that being able to attend your end-of-year ball can make, and so many people from disadvantaged backgrounds can feel so left out.

“I just like the beautiful simplicity of helping disadvantaged kids to feel included. I know that a lot of schools across the UK are now seeking to solicit Prom Ally’s support, so it’s not just about the donations; it’s about raising the profile and getting more people using the service.”

This follows a recent Prom Ally campaign which saw more than 100 coats distributed to children and families across Conwy during November and December.

To donate to Prom Ally yourself, go to: www.promally.co.uk/donate-funds.

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno