Fairy Godmother, tick: Now I’m learning to weld


Redbank mother Sam Harrison (above) is the founder of The Fairy Godmother Project. Dresses for Cinderellas and suits for Cinderfellas are provided free of charge to anyone in need, who may be struggling to afford the costs associated with a school formal.

Everyone remembers the iconic scene in the movie Pretty Woman.

One of the most famous scenes from the 90s classic, is the shopping scene where Vivian (Julia Roberts) goes into a high end store and is refused service because of the way she looks.

It was a moment like that, which stayed with Sam, sparking the idea to start The Fairy Godmother Project.

“When my daughter first started year 12, I knew it was coming,” Sam remembers.

“She went to a private school, so I knew she had a standard that she was expected to be at.

“I took the initiative and went into one of the formal gown stores and they looked at me like I was just a piece of trash.

“They had that down-the-nose la de da.”

But not to be perturbed, Sam started an account at the start of the year and started paying it off.

“About 6 months down the track I had paid about half and my daughter, Chloe, went in to pick her gown,” she says.

“It cost just under a grand, so I spent another six months paying it off. And I never forgot the feeling of going in there and how degraded I felt.

“My daughter had every right to make her formal and feel beautiful, who were they to say I was any better or any worse than anyone else.

“Then I saw a couple of posts of ladies that were trying to find cheap or offered gowns for their daughters, and it’s just steam rolled into all of this. It’s not so much about the gown it’s about getting them to finish.”

Sam believes finishing year 12 can help with job prospects and may even help reduce teen pregnancy.

“Getting your year 12 certificate opens up a whole new world for the girls,” she says.

“Being able to attend their school formal gives them a light at the end of the tunnel to help get them through those last few months.”

This feathery little number is an Alex Perry. It was donated by Miss Global Australia 2016, Caitlynn Henry.
These bow-tiful shoes are Carla Zampatti donated by Seven’s Katrina Blowers.
Whip your sunnies on before you look at this one. It is a bedazzled Jovani, a New York designer.
This sparkly little number is an American designer’s work – Sherri Hill. It was donated by Miss Global Australia 2016, Caitlynn Henry.

Sam is spreading her fairy wings with the help of Hearts and Minds Foundation.

The Foundation’s vision is a world of possibilities, opportunities and dreams for every child, regardless of background or financial status, through access to an excellent education.

Director of the Hearts & Minds Foundation, Greg Wallace, agrees having the school formal to focus on can help the students finish their studies.

“We have to do what we can to keep our kids in school,” he says.

“Being able to turn up in a gorgeous gown or dapper suit to their formal also positively contributes to their self confidence. It’s a win-win on so many fronts.

“I was honoured to have been at the shop to see our first beautiful young lady officially fitted. It was all the thanks we need for doing what we do!

“The look on her face, the excitement, the gratitude, that feeling of worth. I wish we could bottle that for all young men and women.”

Together, they reside in a shop at 156 Brisbane Street, above Choices Flooring. They will be open Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm-8pm and Saturday 12pm-4pm.

Sam is in the process of taking a step back from the project.

“I’ve got it up and running and the volunteers can run the shop,” she says.

A car enthusiast, Sam is in the process of restoring a XY Falcon.

“I’m going back to playing cars, spray painting cars and working in the shed,” she says. “I’m doing it all myself. I’ve got to learn how to weld.”

If you would like to donate a dress or suit, you can drop them off at Ipswich Dry Cleaners, 255 Brisbane Street, Ipswich.

You can also visit for further information.

Floral photo courtesy of Tami Anne Photography

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