Cast your mind back to early January and you may remember our amazing wander list competition to win flights to the top five destinations of your choice. Tens of thousands of you entered but only one single name could be drawn from the hat – and we're delighted to announce that Denise Rogers from Dunstable is our lucky winner.
Last week we had the pleasure of meeting Denise and her son in person to 'hand over' her prize, so we took the opportunity to find out how she's feeling about her win and how the travel plans are coming along.
Lucky Denise, who lives with her lorry driver husband Robin and 17 year old son Adam, was completely astonished to learn that she'd scooped such a major prize. "When I first opened the email to say that I'd won, I thought it was a scam because I never ever win anything. There could be two people in a raffle and I still wouldn't win. So I just assumed it was all a big mistake," she says. "When I spoke to someone on the phone the next day and was told, yes, I'd definItely won, I just couldn't believe it. It was an absolutely amazing feeling."
The famous five
Denise's five chosen destinations are New York, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Shanghai and Edinburgh. And a stirling choice it is too, we say. Though, with such a global list of destinations to choose from, Denise admits to a couple of raised eyebrows at her decision to throw Edinburgh in the mix! "The choice of destinations was quite overwhelming," she explains. "Due to some health issues we've only recently started looking at long haul destinations again, and those four places have always been at the top of my list. But with Edinburgh, it's just a solid down-to-earth city that we've always wanted to visit, and we also didn't want to appear greedy!"
So where to first? "I think we'll probably do Edinburgh in the summer and then head to New York at the end of September – we also plan to visit Washington and Philadelphia for a couple of days during the same trip," she says. "My son's been wanting to visit New York since he was little, so he's got a massive list of places that we will all have to visit! It's hard to know where to start as it's such a huge city, but we'll do loads of research and it'll be a massive adventure for all of us."
"The following year we'll probably start with either Vancouver or Las Vegas – in Las Vegas we're hoping to rent an RV and travel around the surrounding area. And ever since we've been married my husband's always told me he's got Canadian relations way back in his family tree, so Vancouver's somewhere he's always wanted to see. Shanghai is the place we'll probably head to last. We need to do a lot of research and planning as we want to make the most of it and also visit Beijing and the Great Wall of China while we're there. But we've got until 2017 to use up the flights so there's plenty of time."
Most of all though, Denise is just looking forward to some well-deserved family time – though understandably she's suddenly become exceptionally popular among her wider friends and family. "I've accumulated a whole new list of best friends!" she says. "No, everyone has been great. I think especially because we've not been able to travel that much in recent years, they're all just really, really happy for us."
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.