Meter maids get a party treat...

Christmas Makeover in Debenhams, Sheffield. From left Joanne Croudy, Dawn Godbehere and Lorraine Eales
Christmas Makeover in Debenhams, Sheffield. From left Joanne Croudy, Dawn Godbehere and Lorraine Eales
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Working women have to do it all, with jingle bells on, in the run up to Christmas.

What with the kids, the job, the shopping and the cooking, ‘tis the season to be stressed out and exhausted. Particularly if your job is one on which others depend more heavily at this time of year.

Lorraine Eales,Dawn Godbehere and Joanne Croudy  at Mercury Taxis,Crookes

Lorraine Eales,Dawn Godbehere and Joanne Croudy at Mercury Taxis,Crookes

The Star wanted to treat a trio of workmates to a little comfort and joy to get them into party mode – courtesy of a makeover at Debenhams on the Moor.

And three women at Mercury Taxis hailed us with a plea for a bit of double-time pampering.

Over Christmas and New Year, the 400 cabbies who run their taxis under the Mercury sign will be working around the clock, ferrying people to and from shopping trips, office parties and nights on the town. The men are out on the road but they couldn’t do it without the support of the backroom girls, including Joanne Croudy and Dawn Godbehere, plus Mercury’s glamorous co-director Lorraine Eales.

“It’s a hectic time of year for us. Everyone wants to have a festive night out and it’s our job to make sure they get there on time – and back home safely,” says Lorraine, 43, who has lived and breathed taxis for the last 23 years.

It was her husband Andrew who set up the business with his dad Samuel back in 1988 – with one Lada between them.

Says Lorraine: “At Christmas we’re running flat out and it is exhausting. We would love a bit of me-time and a new party image would really cheer us up. None of us have got the time or energy to do it for ourselves.”

Joanne, 46, of Woodhouse, is currently caring for her brother as he recovers from a stroke and she helps an elderly couple in Rotherham to stay independent by doing their shopping and cleaning. Around that, she works full-time and looks after Mercury’s major business clients, wedding bookings and emails.

Said Joanne: “I do love dressing up. For the first time in years I’ve got five days off at Christmas and I’d love to kick up my heels – if I can remember how.”

Meanwhile, Hackenthorpe mum Dawn is trying to organise a family Christmas and move house around her part-time job as the firm’s marketing assistant.

“Life is a whirl of shopping for presents and for the house at the moment. The last thing on my list is an outfit for me,” she says.

“I’ve got a very excited seven-year-old daughter, a husband who runs the Mercury call centre and will be working over the festive period again, and, just for added pressure, we’re hoping to be in our new house for Christmas,” says the 43-year-old.

As for boss Lorraine, the business and five children – aged from three to 21 – leave her with no spare time.

“It’s the same every year and although I love getting dressed up for a party or a dinner, by the time the evening arrives I often can’t be bothered to get ready,” she says. “On Christmas Day I’m usually in my pyjamas all day.”

Before: Taxi for ‘us workers’, please, for a night out on the razzle

Could our tired taxi team get back into top gear in time for Christmas?

Personal shopper stylists from Debenhams on The Moor were ready with the meter running.

“Our job is to take the time, stress and guesswork out of clothes shopping. We help clients find a new look the easy way,” explains Clare Absolon.

Debenhams had given each woman a make-up lesson with the latest colours and products on the Benefit, Dior and Lancome counters on the beauty floor, and up to £150 to send on a new Christmas party outfit.

Now it was down to Clare to introduce the Mercury Three to a host of hot party looks that work well on fortysomethings. She chatted with the women to find out their view on trends, then hit the fashion floor.

She came back to the Personal Shopper suite again and again with a vast array of clothes.

“We had a massive trying-on session without having to trail around the shop,” said Lorraine after the styling experience. “Not only was it easier and faster, it opened our eyes to clothes we wouldn’t have looked twice at.”

Clare agreed it’s a common problem: “We can easily fall into the trap of finding a look that suits us, one we feel so comfortable with we pretty much stick to it for years,” she said. “Most women will find that if they look through their wardrobe, there is a variation on a theme.

“But it becomes boring and when you don’t step out of your comfort zone, you can’t update your look.”

Some women are the exact opposites, though.

“Others are very trend-led and try any new look going, without really working out if it suits them or not,” added Clare. “My job is to get them into the new styles that will really flatter their figure and complexion – and show women of any age that they can wear virtually any new key trend with a few skilful adaptations.”

After: The taxi ladies have arrived - and the Mercury is rising

Lorraine found herself embracing a glam on-trend look - which was almost as comfortable as her PJs!

She found herself falling for a pair of wide-leg, palazzo-style evening trousers – much more flattering and versatile than she thought – and a Forties-style teal blue top with draping detail and pleated chiffon sleeves from the J By Jasper Conran range at £40.

“Me in wide-leg trousers – I can’t believe it,” she said. “I’d never have picked them myself, but I love them.”

Clare had teamed the £25 Red Herring party must-haves with a pair of turquoise and black Faith peep toe court shoes, £41 on the sale rail, and added toning gem bracelet, £18, and necklace, £25, from the J By Jasper Conran range.

Conservative dresser Dawn turned into a show-stopping party siren in a dramatic, one-shouldered satin party dress in black and cream.

“I never want to be the centre of attention. I shy away from anything showy. But in this dress, I feel a million dollars,” she said.

The bold geometric design from J By Jasper Conran suited her tall, slim figure, Clare pointed out.

She perfectly teamed the £60 dress with a pair of cream and black shoes from the designer Ben de Lisi’s range for Principles (£30 in the sale) and added to the dramatic look with a black pebble bracelet (£15) and £18 necklace from J By Jasper Conran.

Joanne was prised out of the jeans she just about lives in and persuaded into a sophisticated little black dress with on-trend, heavy shoulder detailing.

“No way would I have thought I’d look good in this,” she said, assessing the way the clever side ruching panels gave her waist definition.

The £70 dress, from the J By Jasper Conran range, was complemented by Faith patent peep toe courts with gold chain detailing.