A vintage wedding dress which was mysteriously donated to the Foyle Hospice earlier this year has been returned to the family who own it.
An emotional Finbarr Gallagher and his daughter Marie, were called to the stage of the City Hotel on Sunday afternoon to reclaim the dress Nancy Gallagher had last worn on her wedding day in Leeds in February 1966.
The search is now on to find out the identity of the person who donated the dress and how it got all the way from Leeds to Derry.
“Our staff and volunteers believe that to every dress there is a story and set about trying to track down the original owner,” she said.
Foyle Hospice volunteers restored the dress to its former glory and began a newspaper and social media campaign to find the original owner.
Marie McGrory was astounded when she saw the dress online and hunted out her mum’s wedding album to compare.
“When we saw the dress we it was so like my mum’s dress she wore on her wedding day when she borrowed it from my dad’s sister, although it has been shortened.” she said.
“They were married in Leeds in 1966. We asked my aunt if she still had the dress and she told us that it had been donated to a church in Leeds.”
Sadly Nancy died in 2013, and never lived to see her wedding dress returned to the family.
Her husband Finbarr fought back tears on Sunday as Dr Leah Totton presented him with the dress he had last seen 49 years ago.
The Foyle Hospice had originally planned to auction the dress at Sunday’s Vintage Ladies Day in the City Hotel, however they decided the dress had to go back to its original home with the Gallaghers when they saw the family’s emotional attachment to it.
“It has been so emotional,” said Marie. “Nancy would have been delighted to see this today. Mum and Dad would have been 50 years married in February and we believe this is her way of celebrating in heaven.”
Although the family are delighted to have the dress back, they still want to track down who the mysterious donor was.
“We’d love to find out who donated the dress,” she said. “We have to keep spreading the word.”