It’s 9.40 on a chilly Thursday morning and there’s a chauffeur with a “Brexit Bunker” pick-up sign waiting at Southampton Airport.
Ray and Kerry Godwin are coming from Rossendale, near Manchester, with no idea of where are they going to spend the next two nights. They only know it’s a place in which they will be isolated from Brexit, which is good, but at the same time they joke they’re worried about getting bored of each other in such close quarters after 25 years together.
Who are these people, we hear you ask? Well, Ray was the winner of Paddy Power’s Brexit Bunker campaign:
The driver taking them from the airport to the secret location has no idea about the Brexit Bunker either. He saw Paddy Power’s name on the sign and thinks he is chauffeuring a couple who have just become millionaires – he asked them if they’ve won a huge bet or something. They couldn’t explain to the driver exactly what they’d won.
Here’s a reminder: with some help from Eric, we offered two people a stay on our Brexit Bunker, in reality a fully-branded Paddy Power experience at the super-impressive Spitbank Fort off the coast of Portsmouth.
Ray is a huge fan of Cantona and is also Brexit-obsessed.
So it was a massive surprise when he discovered from his social news feed that these two things collided in the PP campaign. That was the reason Ray (along with thousands of others) applied to win a spot in the Brexit Bunker, but thought he never had a chance.
Last week, however, he received a call from PaddyPower when he was with Kerry in the car, driving with the speaker on. So they both listened at the same time. Kerry was wondering why PP would call her husband and so she started to query this whilst at the same time he was trying to answer some basic validation questions from PP on the phone.
After the call he then had to answer all his wife´s enquires: why is PP calling you? Which contest? Are we going to stay in a kind of Big Brother Brexit House but with no food? Why didn´t you tell me?”
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) March 28, 2019
“Relax,” Ray said. “We are only finalists, I’m sure there are plenty of them.”
In all, we created a shortlist of five potential winners (all picked because of entries that made us smile, or we genuinely thought they could use a break). In the end, Paddy randomly selected Ray’s name as the ultimate winner from that shortlist.
The day after they were having dinner with a couple of friends and Ray received a final call from Paddy Power. He couldn’t hide his excitement and started making funny gestures while talking on the phone in the restaurant.
“We won, we won!” Ray said.
“Oh, wow! That´s excellent but what exactly have we won?” Kerry asked.
“I don´t know. But we are going to escape from Brexit next week. Don´t worry, we´ll be fine,” Ray replied.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) March 29, 2019
And that’s how they arrived here. With no idea of what to expect.
By the time the chauffeur left them, there was a speedboat ready to take them to the Brexit Bunker from Gunwharf quay in Portsmouth.
When they arrived, a glass of champagne was waiting for them. That was a sign that the stay wouldn’t quite be as tough as they thought.
But there were a few conditions: while on the bunker, we redacted their news (not a single mention of the word ‘Brexit’), only fed them British staples such as Marmite and loaded up the games room and bar so they didn’t go totally mad (we took their phones away too.
Kerry told us that since the whole Brexit thing kicked off, she thinks project manager Ray (who still dreams of becoming PM) has become more stressed, always checking his phone, feeling frustrated at politicians. So, this fresh air was deemed a kind of oasis for their marriage.
So to Ray and Kerry – we hope you enjoyed the hospitality on the Paddy Power Brexit Bunker, the amazing weather for those days (the original Brexit dates of March 29/30) and got a bit of headspace away from it all.
Sadly, the Brexit news back on the mainland doesn’t seem like ending any time soon so we hope you enjoyed that Pimms while it lasted.