Mum scoops prizes worth £1,200 whilst fighting for life in hospital before recovering to donate the haul to charity in time for Christmas
A competition mad mum who scooped more than £1,200 worth of children’s prizes whilst fighting for life in hospital has donated the entire haul to charity after making a miraculous recovery in time for Christmas.
Thrifty Holly Smith, 29, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, entered up to 300 online competitions a day whilst recovering for six months in hospital from acute pancreatitis – a severe condition which caused her organs to fail.
With little more than a laptop and an internet connection to keep her company, bedbound Holly, who contracted the disease in June, became addicted to entering online competitions to pass to time and distract her from the pain.
Money saving blogger Holly, said: “I was so bored at hospital, I only really had my laptop for company.
“But the hospital had Wi-Fi so I decided to enter children’s competitions in the hope that I would win prizes to donate to a children’s charity at Christmas after my recovery.
“I entered every single competition I found for children’s prizes, I found them on Martin Lewis’ website and entered up to 300 a day.
“It really helped to distract from the pain and the thought of the donation gave me something to look forward to.”
Mum-of-two Holly, who claims to earn £10,000 a year in prizes, started entering competitions when she was 21 because she suffers from a rare stomach condition and a tumour in her leg which prevents her from holding down a job.
She has more than 150,000 likes on Facebook and spends her days dishing out advice on how to save money on her YouTube blog Holly Smith UK Couponing Mum.
However, Holly contracted pancreatitis in June after receiving surgery for her sphincter of Oddi dysfunction – a rare condition which causes painful spasms worse than child birth.
She spent the next few months in hospital recovering, where, using tip offs from money saving expert Martin Lewis, she started a winning streak of online competitions for children’s toys and clothes.
But Holly was dealt a new blow when her liver was slashed during routine keyhole surgery, causing her entire abdomen to fill with bile, which can poison the body.
Doctors were forced to perform open abdomen surgery to drain the deadly fluids and Holly spent the next two weeks fighting for her life in intensive care.
Remarkably, Holly survived the ordeal and was able to return home to her family before Christmas where she found a mound of children’s toys and clothes waiting for her.
Buoyed by her miraculous recovery, instead of keeping the prizes, which included Frozen toddler dolls and The Hobbit action figures, for herself, she decided to donate the entire £1,248 worth of prizes to charity instead.
Holly said: “I had only been out of hospital three days and I couldn’t even walk properly but all I could think about in hospital was the donation. I was so happy to complete it.”
“Competitions are my way of life now and I’m lucky that my blog has become so successful.
Despite my illness, it’s now my business, and I can work hours that suit me.
“Sometimes I blog in the middle of the night to distract me from the pain, so my blog helps me and others.
“After the emergency surgery, I’m just happy to be alive and I’m happy to give my winnings away to charity.
“Even though I have children of my own, I know there are children who get nothing for Christmas, and every child should have smiles on their faces at Christmas.”