Christmas last year was not exactly a cracker.
After months of lockdowns and uncertainty, millions of families were unable to celebrate with their loved ones.
That’s why the Sunday People decided this year to lighten the load for one lucky family with a prize giveaway worth over £1,000, including everything for the perfect Christmas – from a scrumptious dinner to amazing gifts.
And out of the thousands who got in touch, Emma French, 43, was chosen as the winner.
The mum of two was overjoyed at the news after enduring the same struggles many families have faced in the pandemic.
Administrator Emma says: “During the first lockdown I was working from home. My husband Darren was furloughed and took on the role of teacher.
“It was stressful but we weren’t the only ones, obviously.”
Like countless others, plans to see her extended family over Christmas fell through.
Emma, of Norwich, says: “My sister lives up north and was coming down. Then at the last minute it wasn’t allowed. It was heartbreaking.”
That wasn’t the only heartbreak the family faced last year.
When Emma’s uncle in Scotland died of leukaemia in the summer, the pandemic put further strain on the loss.
Emma says: “He was locked down for his entire illness, then when he passed away we weren’t allowed to go to his funeral. It’s just a build up of woe isn’t it?”
Darren, a printer, was also one of Britain’s grafters who had to deal with the precariousness of furlough.
Emma says: “It was obviously a pay cut, and his work weren’t topping it up.
“It was quite difficult.”
Emma avoided furlough but had to work from home.
The family living room became both her office and a classroom to daughters Amelia, 10, and seven-year-old Matilda. Like many parents, Emma’s experience of teaching while trying to work proved a challenge.
She admits: “It was horrible. They’re in different years so had different sets of homework and different online classes.”
But learning she had won our giveaway has been the icing on this year’s cake.
And no one is more excited than Amelia and Matilda.
Emma says: “I haven’t said what’s coming, they just know there’s some treats for them.
“It’s like a weight has lifted. We were panicking because we haven’t bought food or anything.
“We were planning on some kind of Christmas miracle.
“We’re really, really chuffed, and the girls are so excited.”