A thrifty single mum has paid for her teenage daughter's entire prom night on a budget of just £12.50.
Debbie Hills, 47, ensured daughter Aimee had a night worthy of a princess – while she still had change from a £20 note.
School cook Debbie's bargain-hunting credentials saw her snaffle a free dress from social media and arrange donated transport.
She spent just £7.50 combined on alterations for the frock and a pair of tights.
And the dress has now been passed on for someone else to have the same experience.
Mum-of-three Debbie says she was forced to put her penny pinching skills to the test after 18-year-old Aimee initially refused to attend her prom due to school bullies.
But the teenager, from Hastings, East Sussex, changed her mind about going to the bash just three weeks before the big night.
Her mum had to scramble everything together to ensure she looked the part.
Debbie said: "Aimee wasn't very confident, like a typical teenager she had body confidence issues when she's a size eight.
"She didn't have a large friendship group and was bullied at school – she didn't want to go to school and didn't really do well in her exams.
"I'm a single mum and I struggle for money anyway, so I had no idea how I was going to do it because dresses cost a fortune.
"Everyone should go to prom and Aimee's really glad she went. She has some lovely memories, she would have regretted it if she hadn't.
"Prom shouldn't be about the pressure of money, it should be about the kids spending time together and having memories to look back on."
Luckily, children's activity co-ordinator Aimee fell in love with a dress that had been donated by a woman offering it for free on Facebook who said she was sick of seeing people struggle to find the money for prom.
Just £5 was spent on alterations for the frock, and Aimee wore her own shoes and did her own hair and make up after picking up skills from her makeup artist big sister, Rihannon, 23.
Debbie paid £5 for the actual ticket and £2.50 on a pair of tights, while Aimee was chauffeured to the prom for free by her great uncle Percy in his Jaguar.
Luckily, Debbie had previous experience in organising proms on a budget with Rihannon's big night costing £24 thanks to a donated dress.
The celebrations for son Josh, 20, cost only £55 in total including a new suit, shoes and a bottle of whiskey for a neighbour who dropped him off in his Porsche.
Debbie said: "We know that we're lucky.
"It is nice to spend a lot on your child's prom and treat your kids if you can afford it, but we're more grateful than greedy.
"We don't do the whole 'look what I've got'.
"My kids will go into Primark and look for the stuff that costs a pound, they don't go into Hugo Boss and want a £500 t-shirt."
Debbie said the prom trip was made more poignant for Aimee after her grandad Simon was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, just four weeks after her aunty Vicky, 20, was found dead at university.
Debbie said: "Aimee really deserved to go – when my dad was diagnosed with cancer her only priority was making sure she visited him every day and making sure he was eating.
"Even now, she still visits him twice a week and does things for him.
"She's a great kid – she rarely thinks of herself and always wants to help everyone else."
Aimee's purple halterneck and diamante studded dress has now been passed on to another school leaver while Rihannon's was donated to the school.
Debbie said: "We've passed the dresses on for other people to enjoy.
"One of the conditions when we picked up Aimee's dress was that we weren't allowed to sell it, but we wouldn't have done that anyway.
"We've always struggled, and it was nice to be able to do something for families in a similar position.
"Money is tight for most of the people I know, and most of those are working families."
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