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Lady in Red

Its that time of the year again when Paul’s charity, Once Upon a Smile host their annual gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester. Paul has been the chairman of the charity since it launched in 2011, alongside their co-founders, Dan Jillings and Emmerdale’s Danny Miller. Once Upon a Smile are a children’s charity who assist families going through the bereavement of a parent or child. Some of the tragic cases of losing a loved one are heart-wrenching, but the success stories of how the charity have helped them are overwhelming and heroic.


This year’s event was held at the Hilton Hotel, where over 250 guests were greeted to a red carpet of paparrazzi and a champagne reception. All the stars from popular TV shows attended, the cast of Emmerdale, Hollyoaks, Waterloo Road and Coronation Street dressed in ball gowns and black ties to celebrate an amazing evening of the charity’s annual success raising funds for families suffering from bereavement.

Two years ago I attended the event seven month pregnant with Rocco and this year I was five months pregnant with baby No 2! I had the same dilemma of what to wear, I wanted something classy and comfortable. In 2014 I wore a stunning Forever Unique dress which I still have hung up in my wardrobe, but this time around I wanted something that I could wear after the baby is born, and get more wear out of it. I hunted high and low for dresses that weren’t too tight, too frumpy, and something to fit ma and baby bump nicely. I soon decided to have one made bespoke.

I pulled together some designs inspired by a few of my favourite designers, bought the fabric and took it to my seamstress with a collage of images to create my prefect ball gown dress. I chose a light cotton Lycra which is great for elasticity, durability and comfort. My favourite colour is red, so just to glam it up, I chose a fire engine red fabric to add a pop of colour. The design was pretty simple; low V neckline and backline, empire line waist, two thigh length side splits and a floor length finish. A few fittings and a week later, the dress fit like a glove and it was ready to come home with me.

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I paired my dress with antique gold accessories from Topshop and gold strappy stiletto Louboutin’s. To tone down the red and gold slightly, I added a black and gold Hermes belt and a Jimmy Choo clutch bag. I was ready to roll three days ahead of the event which was a first!

I had manged to squeeze in an appointment with my hair stylist at Paix Gallery who added some Peruvian hair extensions to my locks, which I curled into loose waves with a large curling wand. My make up inspo was dewy skin, highlighted with gold and chilli red lipgloss. I wore Urban Decay Naked eyeshadows in Chopper and Blackout, with ‘Isabelle’ Lash Magnifique mink eyelashes, for a gold, dramatic smokey eye. I contoured and highlighted my base with MAC Pro Longwear concealer and added Peachtwist blusher to the apples of my cheeks. My favourite lipgloss of all time, Russian Red by MAC gave the finishing touch to my make up masterpiece, which just added a hint of glamour. On the event night, my dress, hair and make up didn’t fail to let me down.

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The evening was so well attended, with the star of the show being a little boy named Isaac’s who died last year of an astma attack. His mum’s story was so powerful, so moving, so real and so sad, she had the whole room in tears. It was an inspiration to hear her story and how much she does for the charity as an ambassador to raise funds for other parents and children who have suffered like her.

The night concluded with some uplifting entertainment from X Factors Jake Quickenden, 1980’S Chesney Hawkes, soul singer Angie Brown and mega band Scouting For Girls. The event was a huge success all round, having appeared in the local news the next day, and everyone nursing their hangovers, except me!  Always time for that next year!

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