A charitable option for the party season

Why a Little Black Dress needn’t cost the earth this year.

What does every busy career woman need to see her through the festive party season?

A well-organised diary, an iron resolve to stop overindulging before she’s even got to Christmas Day - and an LBD.

Jewel toned sequins and silks and Ice Queen-white satins may be vying to dazzle on the dinner-dance floor, but the Little Black Dress is the go-to evening piece in the working woman’s wardrobe. It needs to be a classy classic and look glamorous without hogging all the limelight. But it also needs to be on-trend.

You may have found your perfect LBD a few Christmasses ago, but the ugly truth is that there are only so many times you can slip into it without feeling like Cinderella. But does its replacement have to be new and expensive?

“We don’t think so,” said the head of retail at Rotherham Hospice.

“Because we’re a local charity and the hospice is so close to many people’s hearts in the town, our nine charity shops scattered throughout the Rotherham area receive a huge number of donations of fabulous evening wear all year round.

“We’ve selected the very best party pieces to adorn the pre-Christmas rails,” said Kim Loughborough.

“There are party shoes, sparkling accessories, evening and cocktail frocks of all hues and from all manner of designers and high street names - and a wonderful selection of little black dresses.”

The hospice challenged three businesswomen from Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce to head to the charity rails with a budget of just £25 each and exit with a perfect little black outfit.

This is how they fared...

Jackie Freeborn

* Mum Jackie Freeborn is MD of Skin Care Yorkshire. The 57-year-old is co-founder of local charity Work-wise Foundation, which helps young people transition from education into adult and working life.

* Shopped at: Rotherham Hospice Charity Shop at High Street, Wath.

* Party outfit spend: £15 (Ted Baker dress £7.50,vintage-style bag £2.50, Emilio Luca evening shoes £5).

* “I love fashion and dressing up but I hate spending a small fortune to do it.

“The Wath hospice shop is a favourite haunt because it has so much stock - and not just for women. I didn’t just find one LBD but two, and both by great labels – a floaty Twenties-style with a matching lace shawl, which also worked around my second strapless satin number.Some people don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes, but I love wondering about the story behind the garment.”

* Top tip - If you don’t spot anything on the shop floor, tell the staff what you are looking for and ask if they have anything in the store room.

Lisa Pigson

* Lisa Pogson is a director of heating and air-conditioning firm Airmaster, in Swallownest. The mum, aged 46, is also president-elect of Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce.

* Shopped at: Two Rotherham Hospice Charity Shops – at Tanfield Way, Wickersley and

at Brinsworth Lane, Brinsworth

* Party outfit spend: £17.50 (dress £7.50, shoes £5, wrap £2, bag £3).

* “At Airmaster we are very proud of our green credentials - we recycle and economise wherever possible and I walk the talk in my personal shopping habits - I take my clothes to charity shops and buy from them regularly.

“You can afford to buy a couple of festive party outfits in July and store them away when they’re only £5 each.

“I went to two Rotherham Hospice shops and everything was clean, tidy and really well organised.

“I reckon they have the best evening wear stock I’ve

ever seen on the charity


“If only I could have squeezed into the way too small Phase Eight sequinned cream full length gown that must have cost £300 originally...

“But I found a lovely strappy black dress with a subtle hint of diamante detail for £7.50 and accessorised from head to toe for another £10 - way under budget!”

* Top tip - Don’t dismiss things without trying them on.

Deborah Bullivant

* Deborah Bullivant,48, is the director of literacy charity Grimm and Co which promotes reading skills. The charity’s first shop, Story Destination, opens in Doncaster Gate, Rotherham, next year.

* Shopped at: Rotherham Hospice Charity Shop at Browning Road, Herringthorpe

* Party outfit spend: £11.50 (One-shoulder lace Dorothy Perkins dress, Marks & Spencer Autograph collection sequinned bolero £3.50, satin bag £2).

* “My charity shop crush is about supporting a worthy cause and recycling but also finding brilliant value for money. My appreciation of that comes from having been a single parent for many years.

“The staff at the Herringthorpe shop were so helpful and full of ideas it felt like a personal shopping experience.

“The dress they helped me find is really striking, with a glittery lace finish and its one-shoulder styling. I plan to make it earn its £6 price tag: I will wear it as an elegant evening outfit but will also work a rock chick vibe.”

* Top tip -Don’t go with preconceived ideas of what you will be looking for.


Rotherham Hospice has nine charity shops, serving 10,000 customers each month.

The average spend from each customer is £4.40.

All stock is donated by the people of Rotherham and so bountiful are supplies that arrive at the door, the hospice rarely has to make a plea for goods.

Shop managers are assisted by an invaluable team of over 120 unpaid volunteers who work in a variety of roles.The hospice’s retail Gift Aid scheme enables UK taxpayers to gift aid donations made via charity shop purchases to charity.

Two hospice shops - at Montgomery Square, Wath, and 39 High Street, Maltby - specialise in furniture and offer a collection and delivery service.

The hospice’s line of Christmas cards, calendars and diaries are on sale at all nine shops.