A shop assistant determined to bring a bit of sparkle to the world is living a double life – as a FAIRY who makes dreams come true.
Gemma Beard, 22, works in a computer games store by day but spends her evenings and weekends dressed as Disney characters.
When the self-confessed Disney fanatic goes out dressed as Tinkerbell, Snow White, Rapunzel or The Little Mermaid, girls flock round her convinced she it the real deal.
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She surprises poorly kids by visiting them in character, and even writes letters and sends presents to children in hospital who are too sick to have visitors.
Cute Gemma, who lives with her mum and dad in Gloucester, spends hundreds of pounds on outfits and accessories to make herself look just like a Disney character.
She said: “It is so nice to wear the big dresses and stuff like that and be able to escape a little bit from the real world.
“I put on my wig, my costumes, and I can be this whole other character.
“Every little girl’s dream is to be able to be Cinderella and I get to do that.
“More than anything, I love putting smiles on children’s faces.
“I love bringing children a bit of Disney magic. You see them on their iPhones and I just think ‘you’re supposed to be kids’ and they don’t look that happy to me.
“When they see me their eyes light up and they are just kids again. They think I’m the real thing and of course I stay in character.”
Gemma’s love for all things pretty started when she was just three-years-old and her grandmother Audrey made her a Snow White costume.
“I was like ‘wow this is amazing, I can be a princess’ and it just went from there,” she said.
She studied musical theatre at college and honed her performing skills entertaining adults and kids at holiday parks, dressing up in her costumes in her spare time.
Gemma wanted to join the troupe of official performers at Florida’s Disney World,but was disappointed to be told that, at 5ft 2ins, she was just an inch too short.
But in October she decided she would become a real part-time princess, setting up company Enchanting Story Book Parties.
She charges minimal fees to turn up at birthday parties so she can help poorly kids for free, and her wages from her day job in Game fund her costumes and a steady supply of free gifts for her little fans.
It takes her up to two hours to get ready and her costumes cost up to £120.
Gemma’s dad David, a factory worker, drives her to her gigs, while mum Carolyn, a nursery teacher, helps with costumes and music.
Next weekend she is visiting five children dressed as Tinkerbell sprinking Disney magic – and fairy dust – as she goes.
“My business is in no affiliation with Disney but I do look to them for inspiration and motivation,” she said.
“I believe the classic fairytales have a lesson to teach and there are many strong characters which make good role models for children, especially the princesses.
“Beauty and the Beast teaches us beauty is only skin deep, The Princess and the Frog teaches us to work hard to achieve our goals and the newest film, Frozen, teaches us the value of family love.
“These characters are not just relatable for children but are relatable to adults too.
“I love each of the stories and we have all curled up on the sofa with our favourite food and watched a Disney film. It creates a little escape filled with magic, laughter and love.”
Gemma was called into action last week as Frozen character Princess Anna to put the smile back on little Gracie Hewett’s face.
Gracie, four, spent nearly five hours in hospital on April 14 after being struck by a motorcyclist and dragged along a road.
She was lucky to escape with relatively minor injuries – scraped knees, a small puncture in her cheek and scuffs to her face – but the ordeal really brought her down.
Gemma heard about the crash and headed round to cheer up the recovering youngster at home.
Mum Leah Keohan, 25, said: “She was amazing.
“Frozen is Gracie’s favourite film and she came round with loads of presents, including a tiara and a bracelet just like the ones she was wearing as well as loads of Easter eggs.
“Gracie was just in awe of her.
“They sat and talked for ages and then sang Let it Go together.
“I asked how much Gemma wanted and she just said ‘no, it’s free’.
“What she’s doing is brilliant.”