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After posting a brilliant selfie on social media rocking her best M&S outfit, Ayda Shaikh, an Assistant Merchandiser within the Womenswear team at M&S, was selected as the winner of our colleague competition to walk the catwalk at the Autumn/Winter 2021 Sparks Live preview. Broadcast exclusively to Sparks customers, here is her account of her unforgettable day.

‘If you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t win the raffle’; ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’

These were my thoughts when I heard about the competition to win the chance to walk the catwalk at the M&S A/W 21 Sparks Live preview. As an Assistant Merchandiser in the Womenswear team, I simply had to enter!

Just a few weeks later, I could barely believe my eyes when I received an email telling me I’d been selected as the winner – out of all the entries!

So not only has this has been a momentous week for our Clothing & Home business, as we launched our Autumn/Winter 21 range to great feedback on the style & value it offers customers – but personally as well, it’s been one I’ll never forget!

Getting ready

As the winner I was joining up with the customer competition winner (a lovely lady called Ana) and together we would be walking the catwalk at the upcoming Autumn/Winter Sparks Live event, hosted by Holly Willoughby. I was so excited!

A week before the event, Ana & I had a call with the Sparks team to go through the logistics for the big day. We soon learnt that the prize wasn’t just being filmed walking the catwalk – it also included an overnight stay & breakfast at the Covent Garden Hotel, a professional hair & make-up session, afternoon tea, post-event celebratory drinks, and of course getting to meet Holly! What a treat!

The big day

The big day eventually came, and I was full of excitement – however what was to come would surpass any expectations I had..

Right from minute one, I felt extremely spoilt and pampered the entire time I was there. Every aspect of the occasion was organised with such great thought – from the lovely breakfast to the amazing hair & make-up session.

The highlight of the day was being able to meet such a wonderful brand ambassador like Holly who really made us both feel welcome and comfortable despite being in front of so many cameras and film crew. 

M&S Sparks Live Holly Willougby CatwalkStrutting my stuff... (on camera!)

I had always wanted to walk down a catwalk! And do you know what – the experience was everything I thought it would be: nerve-wracking, exciting, fun, empowering, and invigorating all rolled into one.

Right in front of Holly, and live to a record-breaking 17K Sparks Live viewers, I got to show off some key pieces from the new Autumn/Winter collection: the gorgeous printed midi tea dress, styled with a stylish knitted tank top and finished off with some chunky leather ankle boots.  How cool is that!

What’s even cooler is the fact that whilst we were on air, hundreds of Sparks customers at home were placing orders for the items they were seeing on screen – a day before they launched to the wider public.

It was the fourteenth Sparks Live event so far (and the first exclusive fashion preview) and while I might be biased, I think it might just be the best one yet.                                           

A special thanks to the Sparks team for going above & beyond to make my day even better than I could’ve imagined! I had an amazing time and got some amazing pictures… this week has certainly been anything but ordinary!