" I may not win the competition, but I feel like Ive made a friend and have the drive to set up alone."
A MUM with a debilitating condition has been inspired to set up her own business after speaking to a fellow designer – while buying tickets to enter a competition to win her home.
Jenny Skinner, 38, of Stanford-le-Hope, spoke to hat-maker Tricia Hamilton while checking out her ‘winmyhouse’ page – to be in with a chance to win a one-million pound cottage.
The mum-of two has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), a chronic and fluctuating neurological condition that causes symptoms affecting many of the body's systems.
Jenny, who has also cared for her mum who has Alzheimer’s, put her start-up business on hold after several false starts – including spending her savings on ‘scam’ training courses.
But a chance conversation with the owner of Tricia Designs and Roselands 19th Century cottage in Pill, Somerset,has led to the launch of her own design business.
Jenny said: “My dream has been to own my own home and run my own business. I may not win the competition, but I feel like I’ve made a friend and have the drive to set up alone.
“Tricia has gone from working as a teacher to setting up a successful business, selling designs world-wide. She has fulfilled her dream and it’s definitely encouraging to see that.”
Jenny read about the chance to win a luxury home for a £10 punt in a national newspaper. To check it was genuine, she decided to call the number advertised on the site.
She said: “I was surprised when I got through to the owner. Tricia was lovely and we got on really well, especially as we both love sewing.
“Talking with Tricia made me more determined to follow my dreams and get my designs known and make a business with them."
Jenny makes a range of products, including dolls’ dresses, toys, wedding accessories and pet security designs. She also upcycles beloved pieces of furniture.
She is looking for a trainee seamstress to join her at Jenny’s Sweet Designs and make products for various occasions.
ME leaves one in four sufferers so severely affected that they were effectively housebound or bedbound. It most commonly attacks the nervous and immune systems.
Jenny said: “It’s a cruel condition which leaves you feeling exhausted and in pain. My symptoms also include dizziness, headaches and sickness. It helps not to overdo it.”
Jenny’s mum, Marilyn Higgins, aged 68, has severe Alzheimer’s and can no longer walk or speak and needs round-the-clock residential care.
Jenny said: “It’s sad to see my mum fade like this. She still smiles when she sees me, so she knows who I am.
“I had hoped to get on the property ladder, but with illness, care and having my own children, it was put on a backburner.
“But I now feel encouraged to set up my own business and, while I’d love to win the home of course, I wish Tricia all the best.
“Either way, I’m blessed that my family give me the will to push through and make the most of life.”
And she should know very soon – as the competition closes on November 15.
Roselands cottage was built in 1829 and comes with half an acre of land. It is a four-bedroom cottage which boasts 17 rooms over three floors, including three bathrooms, two reception rooms, and several outhouses.
Tricia said: “I am humbled that a chance encounter with me has led to this. I think Jenny can use her creativity to help her reach her goals.”
Tricia has launched a spot the hat competition, which has to follow legal guidelines, at £10 a go. She hopes to use proceeds to reinvest in her business and give a donation to charity.
· For more information about the online house competition, which is open until until November 15, 2018,vist https://www.winmyhouse.online/
· For more information about ME, visit https://www.actionforme.org.uk/