AN award-winning community interest company which has helped hundreds of girls find affordable prom dresses is set to close its doors after more than half a decade.

The Dress Agency was established by image consultant Leah Hobson in 2013.

For almost five years, girls have been going to the shop in Market Place, Barnard Castle, to pick out their dream gown as part of a programme recycling dresses.

It was so successful that The Trouser Agency, for men's clothing, followed and customers have been selling and buying designer and retro clothing at the store ever since.

Mrs Hobson has also offered apprenticeships for five Teesdale girls, giving them the chance to gain qualifications in retail, customer service, business administration and team leading.

All have since gone on to find permanent jobs in the area and her last apprentice, Sasha Wilkes, 17, is set to finish her training next month.

Mrs Hobson, 41, said she has now decided to concentrate on her image consultancy business simplyLeah as well as completing a course in hairdressing.

She said: "I've enjoyed the shop and have loved working with apprentices and other staff. I will really miss prom season but I'm beginning to get restless and so it's time to move on."

The shop will close on November 30 and staff are in the process of contacting all clients who have items for sale to arrange collection. Clients can call 01833-695634 before November 30 or on 07816756213 thereafter.