Tara gets the dress of her dreams

Hartlepool Mail Bride of the year Elizabeth Richardson with Tara Wilkinson from Exclusively Yours
Hartlepool Mail Bride of the year Elizabeth Richardson with Tara Wilkinson from Exclusively Yours

“SHE’S getting her big day and I love being part of that.”

They’re the words of Tara Mason who owns and runs Exclusively Yours By Tara in Front Street West, Wingate.

It is her shop which is providing the wedding gown for Elizabeth.

Tara, 39, has vast experience of helping nervous brides-to-be as they plan for their biggest of days. She has been designing and making wedding dresses for 22 years, and sewing since she was six.

Over the years, she has turned her hand to making everything from dancewear to clubwear, and curtains to car interiors.

Then she made her first wedding dress. “That was 22 years ago and I haven’t looked back since,” she said.

She first opened wedding dress shop Exclusively Yours in 2000 and now enjoys a clientele from all over the North-East – from Darlington to Newcastle – making sure brides get the gown they deserve.

She said: “I have always had to work really hard because I am helping people with one of the biggest days in their lives.

“It’s a big thing to have on your shoulders and it is important to make it perfect.”

Elizabeth’s emotional moment arrives in September when she ties the knot at the Grand Hotel in Hartlepool with fiance Liam Turnbull, 22.

The couple won the Mail’s Bride of the year competition run in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography and is now in the process of piecing together the details of the £10,000 package of prizes.

She said: “I love it that everyone is donating all these prizes. They are fantastic.”

The dress she has chosen for her wedding day will remain a closely guarded secret until September. She would only say: “It’s not what you expect and I hope Liam cries when he sees it!”

Mum Angela, 48, was with her as she sifted through the choices.

She said: “It’s fantastic that she and Liam have won. We are all really grateful that she has.”

Elizabeth, 22, won our competition – run in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography – after we told how she was rushed into hospital last November after developing blood clots following a routine childbirth.

Just days after giving birth to her son Noah, the Chester Road area mum’s left leg turned completely black.

Doctors at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton found she had four clots on her left lung, two on her her right lung, and deep vein thrombosis in her leg.

They said she she could die, especially on the first night when every minute was critical.

But Elizabeth pulled through and said it was largely down to the support shown by Liam who had to look after their newborn son – and keep on working on night shift – while she fought for life.

Tara explained the process which is involved in preparing the dress once the bride has chosen it.

Next comes the ordering of the dress which can take between three and six months.

Then, the dress arrives and arrangements are made to have the dress fitted.

That’s when it becomes the perfect gown for the bride to wear on her big day.