Just the tonic for bride-to-be

From left, Inspirations owner Mandy Storer, bridesmaids Olivia Atkinson, Remi Atkinson and Sarah Waite, bride-to-be Elizabeth Richardson, and Inspirations manager Julie Kelsey

From left, Inspirations owner Mandy Storer, bridesmaids Olivia Atkinson, Remi Atkinson and Sarah Waite, bride-to-be Elizabeth Richardson, and Inspirations manager Julie Kelsey

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Bride of the year Elizabeth Richardson was given just the pick-me-up she needed when she visited the shop which is providing the bridesmaids dresses.

The Inspirations shop was a great tonic for Elizabeth Richardson, 23, who has been suffering from a virus which also hit her eight-month-old son Noah.

It laid them both low for a week but they are on the road to recovery and Elizabeth is now continuing the plans for her dream day as the winner of the Mail’s Bride of the year competition run in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.

Her latest mission - along with plenty of help - was to choose the dresses for the bridesmaids.

The Inspirations shop in Jesmond Road, Hartlepool, is providing the outfits and Elizabeth told why the four bridesmaids at her wedding should look stunning.

“It is important to me for them to feel comfortable,” said Elizabeth. “I can not think of anything worse than going to someone’s wedding and you do not feel comfortable about it.”

Her four bridesmaids are Sarah Waite, 22, Simone Rayner, 23, Remi Atkinson, 20, and Olivia Atkinson, aged 11.

Sarah and Simone are close friends of Elizabeth, while Remi and Olivia are cousins to Elizabeth’s fiance Liam Turnbull, 22.

Simone will be travelling from Edinburgh to be part of her pal’s big day.

Elizabeth added: “Inspirations is lovely. We have chosen dresses which are sage and ivory. All the girls love them.”

Elizabeth said: “Me and Noah have had a chest infection but we are getting better now.”

She suffers from a condition called Protein S Deficiency which, she believed, made her more susceptible to picking up illnesses.

The Inspirations shop is now under the ownership of Mandy Storer who also runs Molly’s Cakes in York Road.

Mandy has taken over Inspirations from the former owner, her sister Michelle Hutchinson.

She said: “Michelle asked if I wanted the opportunity to take over. I thought about it and thought ‘well, let us have a go’.”

The service offered to customers under the new ownership will be the same as before which is bridal wear, prom wear and bridesmaids outfits as well as suit hire. Inspirations gets customers from all over the North East.

Mandy added: “As time goes on, we may streamline things but we are staying as we are for now.”

Mandy said: “It is so nice to help Elizabeth as she is a lovely person and she is really excited about her big day.”

She explained the process which happens when a bridesmaid chooses the dress.

“It is best if they try on a few designs. Some people think they can just buy off the peg but that is difficult when people are wanting five bridesmaids dresses all the same.

“We give them a ring when they have arrived and we start fitting. We have a girl who does alterations for us and she is very good.”

Mandy said the process of preparing a dress can take 16 weeks.

Liam and Elizabeth, from the Chester Road area of Hartlepool, have been together since they were both 17.

Elizabeth said Liam was her rock when she developed blood clots following a routine childbirth when she had Noah.

She was rushed to the University Hospital of North Tees with four clots on her left lung, two on her her right lung, and deep vein thrombosis in her leg.

Doctors told her she could die, especially on the first night when every minute was critical.

But she pulled through and Elizabeth reckons that was down to the support of her family and Liam who also had to cope with bringing up Noah.