A PUB cleaner has been dubbed “the luckiest woman in Britain” by pals after winning Christmas for the second year in a row.
Dedicated competition entrant Jolene Stanley, 34, from Essex, has been on a winning streak, bagging a whopping £70,000 worth of prizes, from five-star resort breaks to a top of the range cooker.
Now, after scoring on average 20 prizes a month throughout 2020, she has accumulated enough free festive treasures to throw a sumptuous Christmas without spending anything – after winning everything from gifts and decorations to cash and vouchers to put towards food.
Jolene, who has a son Stanley, seven, from a previous relationship, as well as three children – Ivy, three, Charlie, two and Emily, who was born on November 22 – with her partner James Houghton, 28, a carer, said: “Because of the coronavirus, lots of businesses are struggling and so have less to give away, meaning there are fewer competitions.
“But I’ve still managed to get Christmas for free. I put things aside as I go along throughout the year, so that when December hits, I already have everything I need and don’t need to rush out to the shops in a mad panic.”
Entering her first competition in 2012, just after Stanley was born, Jolene never expected to win.
Then, a few weeks later, she discovered she had successfully netted a pram set – triggering a lucky streak that appears to be unstoppable.
Citing tickets to a Spice Girls gig, a four-night stay at a five-star resort in Portugal, a seven-course dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant and a £1,100 cooker amongst her greatest wins, she has also bagged around £3,000 in holiday vouchers.
Spending some on a fabulous Italian break, she is also looking forward to a free trip to Florida – which was postponed due to Covid-19 – soon.
She has also enjoyed a lavish meal cooked by a private chef and a trip to Scotland to stay in a cosy log cabin.
She said: “In the first year of entering competitions, I won £20,000 worth of prizes. That’s my best year to date. In 2019 alone, I won £16,000 worth.
“I actually make more from comping than I do from my actual job. I work part-time, so usually earn between £65 and £85 a week from my day job
“My friends and family say I’m jammy, and joke that I must be the luckiest person in the country.”
After winning everything she needed to make Christmas 2019 magical, Jolene, who dedicates three evenings a week to scouring the internet for competitions, vowed in January to do the same again this year.
“I spent virtually nothing on Christmas last year,” she said. “My total spend was £65, including £10 on the kids. Everything else was taken care of by prizes.
“I was determined to do the same this year.”
Now, Jolene estimates she has around £1,000 worth of prizes – accrued throughout the year – stored away in her attic.
Among them are a £200 book bundle, a jewellery set worth £100, a miniature drone, a playmat for little Emily, an electric scooter, and scores of toys for the kids.
She has also won countless beauty products, alcohol and chocolate, which she will make into bundles for her loved ones.
“I’ve won lots of vouchers and cash too,” she explained. “Unlike other years, when I’ve won big amounts, I’ve had lots of little wins throughout the year – £10 here, £20 there.
“It’s all added up, though, to about £400.
“Some are for Amazon and Argos, which will be great for extra presents, and some One4All and Love2Shop vouchers, which can be used at lots of different high street stores.”
Last month, Jolene won both a £50 meat hamper, and a £60 set of lamb, beef and pork roasting joints, which she has stored in the freezer ready for Christmas dinner.
She added: “I am going to use some of the cash and vouchers I’ve won to take care of the other parts of dinner.
“I can only see myself having to use around £50 of my own money, if that.”
Even Jolene’s festive decorations were free, with a huge wooden advent calendar, an LED star and a festive snowglobe featuring amongst her wins.
JOLENE’S TOP TIPS
Jolene’s top tips
· Find friends within the community who can alert you to prizes, and tag you in relevant giveaways
· Leave a personalised comment under every giveaway post
· Make sure you read the rules fully
· Find a way to make it enjoyable, rather than feel like a chore
· Search hashtags to find local competitions (e.g. #essexgiveaway #londongiveaway) as they tend to not get as many entrants and the prize will be on your doorstep
· Enter as much as possible – you’ve got to be in it to win it!
She is hoping to nab some last-minute prizes throughout December too, as many companies run advent-calendar style competitions, where they give away a different prize every day.
She laughed: “Around this time of year, you’ll see a lot of what we in the community call seasonal compers – those who appear from nowhere to win a load of stuff for Christmas, then disappear again until next year.
“I thought with everything going on this year, I might see an influx of new people getting into comping, as so many of us are thinking about money.
“But that hasn’t really been the case. I think people lose interest when they don’t have immediate success. They don’t realise that comping takes time and patience.
“I try to be fair and only enter competitions where I could use the prize, or give it to a loved one or charity. I make monthly donations at food banks, too, and give them anything edible I’ve won.”
JOLENE’S TOP PRIZES
· A four-night stay at a five-star resort in Portugal
· A £1,100 range cooker
· A holiday to Bella Italia campsite by Lake Garda
· £2,000 worth of holiday vouchers
· A Mother’s Day package consisting of a meal cooked by a private chef, a £100 food voucher, kitchenware and a photoshoot
According to Jolene, who bags most of her prizes on social media – particularly Instagram – by simply liking and sharing posts, one of the biggest benefits of having Christmas wrapped up so early is that it gives her more quality time to spend at home with her family.
She said: “My friends and family don’t mind at all that I give them things I’ve won. They just like getting lovely gifts.
“Having virtually everything sorted means I don’t have to do the mad dash around the shops getting presents.
“Having just had Emily, I want to be at home this year more than ever, and not expose myself to the coronavirus.
“I’m really pleased I’ve managed to win Christmas again – let’s hope I can do the same next year.”
We revealed how a woman won three free holidays and £20,000 in prizes as a professional comper… and here’s how you can do it too.
Here's how ‘comping’ could get you your shopping fix and stock your home with freebies.
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