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Ontario woman's lost wedding dress found by thrift store volunteer after 'long shot' search

Sheila at St. Vincent De Paul Valu Store in Bowmanville, Ont. located Tanya Walsh's lost wedding dress (Walsh handout) Sheila at St. Vincent De Paul Valu Store in Bowmanville, Ont. located Tanya Walsh's lost wedding dress (Walsh handout)
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After making a "long shot" plea to the public this weekend, a woman in southern Ontario has found her lost wedding dress, mistakenly donated by her father earlier this year.

“I am beyond excited,” Tanya Walsh said Saturday afternoon. “Pure joy.”

While Walsh acknowledges all wedding dresses are special, this one has extra significance, she said.

“It was a dress my mother bought right before she passed away,” she told CTV News Toronto Friday.

Walsh was married in 2018. At the time of the ceremony, her mother was in palliative care, she said, and so they had a small gathering – only 14 guests.

“At first, I didn’t want a wedding dress but my mom and dad got married at city hall and never had a proper wedding dress,” Walsh said. “So I got the dress in hopes that it could just serve as a memory when she's gone.”

Walsh’s mother died just a few months later.

For years, the dress was stored in her late mother’s closet at her father’s home – “for safekeeping,” she said.

Walsh's wedding dress can be seen above. Earlier this year, it was donated to a Bowmanville thrift shop. Now, she's looking to find it again. (Handout by Walsh)

But come February, she learned her father had accidentally donated the dress to a Bowmanville thrift store – either the St. Vincent de Paul Value Store or The Salvation Army in Bowmanville, she said. When Walsh spoke to CTV News Toronto on Friday, she said she had called both, but neither had seen the dress come through their shops.

In a last-ditch effort to find the dress, Walsh took to social media asking local residents to keep their eyes out in thrift or pawn shops and to contact her if they saw the dress. At the time of publication, the post had been shared nearly 1,500 times.

After writing the post and sharing her story with CTV News Toronto, Walsh was notified Saturday afternoon that “a lovely volunteer” had located the gown – at one of the stores she had originally suspected it had been donated to.

“The dress [was found by] Sheila at St. Vincent de Paul store,” Walsh told CTV News Toronto Saturday. “It was in storage in the basement, tucked away,” she added.

Walsh said that, when Sheila saw the plea, she said she made it “her mission” to find the dress during her Saturday shift.

“And she came through,” Walsh said. “Thank you to everyone who helped share the story and circulate. [I'm] beyond grateful.”

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