23 November 2001

OLDSTY

ABRIDAL

MECCA

Farmers wife Alice Collinson is helping

make peoples special day that bit more

special. Jeremy Hunt reports

PULL into the yard at Gift Hall and it looks much like any other Lancashire livestock farm. But when farmers wife Alice Collinson welcomes you from the converted red-brick building that was once the old pig-sty, be prepared for a surprise.

In an instant the hustle and bustle of the farm is left behind as you step onto thick, pale apricot Axminster and enter a hushed world of flowing wedding gowns and haute couture.

Here, in this luxuriously appointed setting, it takes a tractor to drive past the window to help you remember exactly where you are.

For a bride and her mother planning the big day this could be the answer to their prayers. Some even travel from as far away as London and Cornwall to have their dresses designed and made personally by Alice in this quiet corner of the Fylde countryside at Winmarleigh near Garstang.

Bridesmaids dresses, page-boy suits, outfits for the mother of the bride, veils, head-dresses and handbags are also made here by Alice and in the spacious "wedding shop" youll find every kind of wedding-day accessory.

&#42 Doing the lot

For local weddings Alice can organise everything from the invitations, the flowers and the wedding cars to the photographer and even the wedding cake, but its designing and making wedding dresses that is Alices forte and its something that she admits she "simply adores".

Although she runs the new shop – known as Almarice – in partnership with her sister Margaret Curwen, Alice undertakes all the dress-making and sewing herself. She can easily spend over 50 hours making an individual dress.

Alice has been making clothes since she was 12. She is self-taught and has had no formal training but admits having four daughters has ensured her talents for dress-making had plenty of practice.