Meet the compers: Lorraine Harrison
Around 13 years ago I was invited by a friend to join a local comping club in the East Midlands, meeting on Friday nights for chat, snacks and a cuppa. Sharing our wins, our dreams and our entry forms, it was a real boost to meet these ladies, and the lovely Lorraine Harrison was certainly the hostess with the mostess! Now I’m based in Brighton, it’s been a while since I saw the Derbyshire comping crew – so it was great to see ‘Britain’s Luckiest Granny’ Lorraine in the newspapers last year. I decided it was time to get her on board for my new series of Meet the Compers…
Hi Lorraine, and thanks for joining me here on SuperLucky for a Q&A!
How and when did you start comping?
I was walking past an old Woolworths store with my young son and was stopped by an assistant to ask if I would like to enter their free prize draw. I explained I had no idea what a free prize draw was. She said all I had to do is write down my name and phone number, and if we get picked out we’ll win a Mickey Mouse soft toy. There was a winner of a soft toy in every store, but then an overall winner would be picked from all the store winners to win a holiday in Florida. I had forgotten all about this until I got a phone call to say could I come into the store to collect the soft toy, and to remind me we were now in the draw for a holiday to Florida. Unfortunately, on this occasion we did not win the holiday, but the excitement was addictive and the rest is history. That was about 25 years ago!
Which websites, forums, magazines or resources do you use for comping?
I have to say I don’t really use many as I don’t spend as much time comping as I used to. I still work 4 days a week, and the fifth day I look after my grandson all day. But I’m a member of the London Competitor’s Club and also Compers News. I sometimes enter Facebook competitions and still occasionally use Loquax.
What’s your favourite prize, and why was it so special?
It has to be my Toyota Prius, worth £17,850 at the time. My text was drawn out of 19,000 entries, and I nearly missed the winning telephone call!
What’s the best ‘money can’t buy’ prize you’ve won?
I won a champagne breakfast on Concorde, and now it’s out of service, I feel like I have a little part of history under my belt.
What’s your favourite type of competition?
It’s probably slogan competitions, but I tend to do a lot of text entries.
Earlier this year a story about your wins in the local paper got picked up by the national media and you ended up appearing on TV as ‘Britain’s Luckiest Granny’! Tell me more about how that happened…
I subscribe to our local newspaper, the Nottingham Post, and one day I was flipping through the pages and noticed there was a question asking if there were any “lucky” readers out there. I sent in my top 20 prizes, not thinking anything of it – and probably within half an hour the phone rang to ask if someone could come out and do a story and take some photos, so I said yes! (Read Lorraine’s story in the Nottingham Post).
This was Friday afternoon – on Saturday morning a reporter phoned me at 7.30am asking if he could do a story too, he said he could get me in most of the national newspapers, magazines, and probably TV as well! It was a whirlwind, everything happened so quickly. With hindsight I wouldn’t do it again, as he didn’t pay any money, so I ended up threatening legal action, got one of his big bosses involved, and eventually I made £900 out of it – which I suppose was like another little win! Meeting Holly and Phil was like winning a prize too, as my daughter and I were treated like celebs on This Morning. We had the train fare paid for, overnight in a hotel with spending money, car transfers to the studios, had my make-up done, food in the “green room”, and met other famous people. It was a wonderful day out!
Do you have a winning competition entry that you’re particularly proud of?
A local Kwik Save store had undertaken a complete refurbishment and was offering shoppers a holiday to Florida, and you had to say what you liked about the new store… I wrote: “the store’s bright, the staff polite, and prices are quite ‘simply’ right”. (Simply used to be Kwik Save’s own brand, for you youngsters!). That won me the holiday to Florida!
Are there any types of prize promotions you’d like to see more or less of?
I like to see promotions with lots of holidays up for grabs, and those where you have to supply a POP (proof-of-purchase).
What’s the most unusual prize you’ve won?
Probably one of two most unusual prizes was winning a personal trainer for a month when we were living in our caravan waiting for the house to be ready – I won him with the Milk Marketing board, talk about bad timing! It was very difficult to do exercises in a caravan so he took me out on my bike every day. The other prize was a lovely leather jacket from Durex, accompanied with a t-shirt with a sperm on, and a year’s supply of Durex (12 condoms!)
Like me, you’ve been at the receiving end of some nasty comments and messages from strangers because of your success at the hobby. Has it made you less likely to celebrate your wins now?
Yes definitely, I don’t normally post my wins now, I just tell my close family and friends. I can’t be doing with the nastiness, I know what I’ve won and so do my friends and family!
I loved our comping meetings back in the day! Do you still see any of the old gang?
No I don’t really, the occasional natter on Facebook maybe, but would love a good catch up with everyone.
Which prizes are top of your wishlist at the moment?
I always love winning holidays, I can’t remember the last one I paid for – ha ha!
What do you think the future holds for comping?
I think it’s more and more Facebook, Twitter, and all the new social media sites that I need to get my head round. I must say your articles in Compers News on Twitter have helped, but I think until I retire properly, I’ll just enter by text, email, web or postcard, while the options are still there to do so.
What do your family think of your comping hobby?
They are really pleased for me and proud I think, especially Michelle my eldest as she has joined me on most of my spa breaks.
Do you have any funny stories related to comping?
When my grandchildren were little I used to take them round the supermarket with me and told them whoever spotted the word WIN first would get a prize. My youngest grandson would probably only have been 5 at the time when he shouted, “Nanna, Winalot!” – bless him, he thought he had found a competition. I put the tin of dog food in my trolley and told him he’d won!
What would be your top comping tip or piece of advice?
Read the terms and conditions first – check if it’s one entry per person. And a tip relevant to me is to always keep receipts in a safe place to avoid nightmares – I recently won £5,000 of B&Q vouchers in a Wilkinson Mr Muscle comp, where I had to produce my receipt!
Thanks so much Lorraine – wishing you lots of luck for the future (and hope you win your next holiday soon!)