Sue Gillingham's Story
I ﬁrst started entering competitions about 11 years ago and I had quite a few successes in the ﬁrst year including a microwave from Tesco, petrol mower from Focus, caravan holiday in Lowestoft for the family, a two inch Colour TV and numerous T-shirts, video’s and mugs etc. But after that ﬁrst great year of comping, my home life became really hectic with loads of new grand-babies being born (I have three daughters, ﬁve granddaughters and three grandsons) so reluctantly I stopped comping for a while because of sheer lack of time.
Time passed and the babies started growing up and going to school etc., and about a year or so ago, I heard about Competitor's Companion. That wet my appetite to take up my hobby again, so I started to subscribe and began steadily winning small prizes. Then not long before Christmas last year, whilst reading my Competitors Companion and entering different draws, one of my granddaughters, Olivia who is six, asked me what I was doing and I explained to her all about entering and winning competitions. She was absolutely enthralled and said that she was going to enter some children’s competitions. True to her word, about a week later she saw a competition on Boomerang TV to draw a picture of a My Little Pony dressed as a princess and went straight up to her room and sat down all on her own and drew a really lovely picture. I know being her nanny I’m a bit bias, but her mum and I thought it was so good, I immediately scanned it and e-mailed it in to the competition address at Boomerang TV for her and continued entering competitions for myself.
It was the last Friday before Christmas last year when I went home for lunch with my husband. He picked up the post from the mat and started opening it. While I put on the kettle on, I heard him shouting something and when I went to investigate I found him waving a certiﬁ cate in the air. I had won a six-day trip to Dubai for two people staying at the wonderful 5* Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the one that looks like a big wave, courtesy of the Optrex Dry Eyes Competition. My ﬁrst really big win and what a great start to Christmas! We decided to go in November as we already had our summer holiday booked.
Two weeks later on the 5 January 2007, I received an email to congratulate Olivia and tell her that she was one of the grand prize winners in the Boomerang TV Competition she had entered, and she had won a trip to Disneyland Paris in March of this year for her and her family to attend the My Little Pony Princess Ball as one of the UK's Princesses and that there would be Princesses from 19 other countries all over the world. She was absolutely thrilled and so was her little brother Max aged ﬁve. On the day they left for Paris, a large box arrived at Olivia’s house. She had won £70 worth of Polly Pocket toys in another competition she had entered. They all had an absolutely great time at Euro Disney from the moment they boarded Eurostar, armed with back packs full of goodies given to them by the promoters Hasbro at Waterloo Station, right through their two days at the park on the rides, VIP seats at the Grand Parade and then a Grand Gala Dinner they night before they left, where Olivia was given numerous My Little Pony’s to take home. Needless to say, she continued entering competitions and has won runner-up prizes in both a Jammie Dodgers Competition (a goody bag) and a year’s free entry into Sea life Centres plus a seal adoption from the Post Ofﬁ ce. Since then I have won many little wins and then about a month ago I won a very nice Gas Bar-B-Q from an Asda text competition followed by £40 worth of vouchers from the local paper for my husband to spend in the new local means shop.
Eventually November came round and we left Gatwick Airport on an Emirates ﬂight bound for Dubai. Firstly, the ﬂight was amazing, with over 500 channels to choose from showing ﬁlms, TV, radio or games to play and you were able to send texts, emails and telephone from your seat!
When we arrived in Dubai, we were given a limousine transfer from the airport to the hotel which was a lovely relaxing start to the holiday. On arrival at the hotel we were greeted like royalty with a porter taking our bags, a guest services representative welcoming us and personally taking us to reception to check in and a waiter offering us a large glass of ice cold freshly squeezed orange juice to enjoy while we were checking in. We were then shown personally to our room on the thirteenth ﬂ oor (a Club Executive Room) by guest services and OH! What a room! The bed was absolutely massive and so comfortable it was like sleeping on a cloud. We had a large ﬂ at screen TV, a three-seater sofa and the table with two comfy chairs were set in front of the wall of glass looking straight out on the Arabian Gulf and one of the world’s most famous hotels, the 7-star all suite hotel Burj Al Arab - the view was absolutely incredible!! In fact, I could not bear to have the curtains closed at night as I wanted to wake up each morning, sit up and look straight out at the view. The bathroom was equally as posh, with a very large bath surrounded by marble, a fantastic tile and glass shower that was huge and a marble vanity unit that even had a marble tissue box! Of course it was well stocked with complimentary soap, shower gel shampoo and conditioner etc, but we also had complimentary Jumeirah Beach ﬂ ip ﬂ ops, beach bag, slippers, gowns, sun cream… The list goes on and on. We had a shower and went exploring the hotel to get something to eat. We had the choice of no less than 22 restaurants! The foyer of the hotel had a bridge over two pools of water and in the middle of one of the pools was a stage with a grand piano and a pianist playing exquisitely while we lounged on the comfortable sofas and chairs. The whole hotel was furnished and decorated in the Art Deco style, it was amazing.
The next morning we got ready and went to the pool. Well, far from having to rush and put your towel on a sun bed as you approached either the pool or the private beach, the beach staff would rush up to you ﬁ nd you a sun bed and place thick fresh towels on them for you, open the umbrella and make sure you didn’t want for anything. While we were sunbathing, at least once an hour one of the staff would come round with ice cold ﬂ annels scented with lemon to cool you or ice cold cucumber slices for your eyes or little lemon sorbet ice lollies to cool you down. The service was absolutely amazing and all done with a friendly face and a smile.
We visited the Mall of the Emirates and saw the indoor ski slope, complete with ski lift, toboggan run and snow – amazing! We also visited the Al Karama district to go shopping to buy ‘genuine’ Louis Vitton, Gucci etc handbags. We also spent a day at the Wild Wadi Water Park that was also complimentary for guests staying at our hotel and spent a few evenings at the Souk Madinat nearby. All in all we had an amazing holiday.
Each night when we went back to our hotel room, our bed would have been turned down fresh mats put each side of the bed with our slippers on, the small lights put on, the curtains pulled and a music channel put on the TV was playing softly in the background. Every night there would also be a gift on each side of the bed - cooling eye gel, spritzer or body balm for me and shaving gel or aftershave lotion for my husband. There was a menu for room service breakfast too. This was also complimentary in a Club Executive Room. It was truly wonderful to be woken by room service delivering your breakfast on a fully laden table, and with someone offering to pour your tea for you while you sat and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast overlooking the gulf.
All in all a truly amazing holiday and something we would never have done if it wasn’t for comping. In the last month I have won a family ticket to a sea life centre, four novels and a slap-up meal for two in a very good restaurant near us. Oh I just love this hobby and I’m so glad I’ve taken it up again.