Christmas comes early for our lucky winner

What happens when your daughter enters a competition in your name without telling you?

You might well get annoyed, but should you happen to win that prize — then you might also get a bit of fright. A delightful fright.

That’s what happened to Breda Long of Dublin Hill, Cork, last week when the Examiner Irish Examiner phoned to say she had’s won a Christmas makeover worth €1,500 from Hanley’s — Cork’s largest Christmas shop.

She nearly died, she says: “My daughter Amanda didn’t tell me she’d entered me in the competition and when they rang up I said, ‘competition, what competition?’ — I didn’t know I had been entered. I got such a surprise, it took me a couple of hours to realise it.

“It lifted my spirits when I heard it,” says Breda, now standing in her resplendent, yule-themed sitting room.

Breda, who’s a mother of four and a grandmother of five, needed the fillip this year, she says, because it’s the first time the family won’t all be round around on Christmas day. I, instead, she and her husband will have two of her adult children at home, the secret Santa competition applicant, Amanda and her son, William. Her third daughter and grandchild will spend Christmas in England.

The pre-Christmas painting had already begun when Breda got the phone call on Friday to say she’d won the prize — and then the frantic business of finishing the job took over.

Breda’s husband Liam had shifted the furniture in preparation, but to have the room completed in time, son-in-law, Emmett was drafted in and all was ready when Jane Dennehy came round on Sunday morning.

Because it’s Hanley’s busiest time of the year, and because Breda had won such a big prize, Hanley’s, who are based the gang on the Airport Road on the Frankfield Road, Ballycurreen, Cork suggested they get into the store early — which they did.

Jane and Breda arrived at just after nine and unbelievably, took just under an hour to get everything they needed — with almost €1,000 of the prize money spent in that time.

“Everything was set when Jane came round on Sunday and it only took 50 minutes to get all the things,” says Breda, “and Tanya from Hanley’s was really helpful.”

Jane Dennehy, who gave of her time and expertise for free, (and she has less than two weeks before her little Christmas baby arrives), says she and Breda discussed the type of look she wanted before they left for the Christmas store.

“Breda told me what she’d normally put up for decorations and even though the room is quite small, we spent almost everything.”

“Jane and I are on the same wavelength, says Breda, “she knew I liked the traditional things. It was a very nice experience to go into a shop and buy things you wouldn’t normally afford, like the Santa’s sleigh figurine, which was €125 — and there’s only so much you can buy.

“I’d say, ‘will we get that’ and Jane would say, ‘no, it’s not going to fit’ — there was a big polar bear there, but where would I put it afterwards?”

“And it doesn’t seem like we spent €900, does it?”, adds Breda, “and we still have more to get.”

And after the short, but highly productive shopping spree, Hanley’s treated Breda to coffee and cakes at Jam, the store’s cafe and they looked after her very well, she says.

This time she’s going to add Christmas goodies, as the last of her prize, for her daughter Sarah and son-in-law Emmet who have four small children, (the youngest, Emmett Jr is just three months) ranging in age from six downwards.

The gang will be round to Nana’s on St Stephen’s Dday, says Sarah, and will appreciated the extra Christmas cheer provided to their family by Hanley’s Christmas makeover prize.

“There was a huge amount of interest in this competition, as it was such a magical prize for Christmas,” says Róisín Quain of the Irish Examiner’s marketing department, “all thanks to Hanley’s and our brilliant designer Jane Dennehy.

* Keep an eye out for even more makeover competitions in your Irish Examiner.


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