Birth of Veg-us by JelliBotti
Birth of Venus by Botticelli
I’ve never really hidden the fact that I’m a comper, but I’m not some mad keen fanatic who will fill in every entry form of every company trying to collate your details. Nor am I the gambling type, addicted to scratchcards and the like.
Comping for me has become a means to an end, a hobby with major rewards, that can be great fun! If you’re a photographer, writer, or a bit of a wit with slogans, it can be quite lucrative…and tax-free, yay!
My favourite websites are www.theprizefinder.com if you’re looking for a particular prize (a holiday, or an XBox, for instance) or www.loquax.com is good if you have a particular talent; it has a section on creative comps that can get you and your family all inspired. I also subscribe to Compers News, which has paid for itself many times over and there’s something comforting about having a hard copy mag to read (I’m old school.)
I’ve roped my husband and kids into all sorts of adventures, dressed the kids up as aliens and pirates for photo comps, we’ve all gone looking for geocaching treasure to win a £50 voucher for an outdoor adventure shop, and my husband and I even recreated the famous “Here’s Johnny!” scene in The Shining, to win…ahem…a ton of Max Factor makeup.
Make-up aside, the whole family reap the rewards of my comping, and we’ve enjoyed prizes large and small, from exciting little packets that come through the post for the kids, to a family membership to RHS and a holiday in Florida.
People who moan “I never win anything, me” probably don’t make much of an effort, or if they have, they need to comp smarter, not harder! I had a lot of success during my baby years, submitting photos and stories to the likes of Prima Baby Expert, because they are targeting a smaller group within the population – parents. And a percentage of those parents won’t have the energy to take part, which increases your chances of winning even more! (That’s what I like to tell myself, although I reckon most of us parents are in the same boat; when the kids go to bed, we all need something to make those long evenings fly by!)
I restrict my comping by asking myself (1) are we having fun? and (2) is it taking up too much time that I should be spending on the kids? Most of the time, I involve the kids as well, like in the making of The Fruitgitive, a spoof of the famous dam scene in The Fugitive, recreated with fruit and veg…
That one was to win £50K for Barclays. I didn’t win the comp that time, because let’s face it, I’m no Sofia Coppola! We had great fun making it though, on the windiest day of the year, with a paddling pool and slide with a hose running water , slowly turning the garden into a quagmire.
We did win another comp though, making a film where my kids spent a lovely day on the farm. We went to London to watch it at a VIP film festival and won a Leapster games console as a runner-up. In fact, to date, we’ve never had to buy any games consoles, because we tend to win them! My daughter won a Nintendo DS in a rapping competition (a three year old talking street is a disturbing thing, and I found it very odd that she memorised a rap wot I wrote. )
And now, I’m poacher turned gatekeeper. I’m experiencing competitions from the other side of the fence. I’m running a Crime Writing Competition in association with the British Thyroid Foundation and Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. The winner will receive two tickets to the VIP launch party for the Crime Novel of the Year on Thursday 19 July, plus dinner, bed and breakfast at the sumptuous Cairn Hotel.
All you have to do is write a short story (max 2,000 words) on the theme “Go for the Throat!” and send it with a donation for £3. All proceeds to the British Thyroid Foundation. Please refer to the website for full terms and conditions on how to set out your story.