X Factor win is a 'life changer'

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 12:57 23/07/2013
Jackie Thomas
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
ON SONG: Westport girl Jackie Thomas beat Whenua Patuwai to win the X Factor.
Aukaha
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
SO PROUD: X Factor winner Jackie Thomas’s grandmother Barbara Cohen, of Richmond, and cousin Emma Wooster, with her children Maisie, 3, and Harry Francois, 5, of Wakefield, celebrate the win last night.

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Barbara Cohen plans a quiet day after the excitement of watching her granddaughter, Jackie Thomas, win X Factor last night.

"I'm so very proud of her - but I'm proud of all my grandchildren," the Richmond grandmother said this morning.

The 22-year-old from Greymouth became the first champion of the X Factor, beating fellow finalists Whenua Patuwai and Benny Tipene.

Mrs Cohen's lounge was home to two balloon-waving great-grandchildren, Maisie and Harry Francois, her granddaughter Emma Wooster and her soon-to-be husband Dean Francois this morning.

"I had a really busy night last night answering all the phone calls from family and friends - I was running around and trying to use the phone as the TV remote and all sorts of things. There were a few tears and I told myself she was so clever.

"Then of course I didn't get much sleep," Mrs Cohen said.

She planned to sit down and watch the show again today after missing some of it in last night's excitement.

She said Jackie's parents, Kevin and Donna Thomas, and her brother, all attended the televised final in Auckland last night.

"They had big cuddles after the show," said Mrs Cohen.

But that is as close as Mrs Cohen expects the family to get to Thomas in the near future.

Thomas, who passed up her first year at Auckland University once she was selected for X Factor, has not only won the title, she also has a record contract with Sony Music and a car.

But after a day with the media she'll be heading into the recording studio tonight to start work on her self-titled debut album which will be released on August 9.

Her single It's Worth It is available digitally now.

Mrs Cohen said Thomas, one of her four granddaughters, was a "real all-rounder".

"Whatever she tries she's good at. But she'll always be Jackie - I saw that on TV. She's just herself."

Mrs Cohen said the win was a "life changer" for her granddaughter, who had spent two years doing payroll administration for a West Coast freezing works before auditioning for the show.

"I hope that it all goes well for her. I just want her to be happy and successful."

Emma Wooster said X Factor had been a real journey for her cousin.

"We watched all the auditions and she was the last person on the last show. That's when the judge said he had just seen the X Factor winner - and we thought that too," she said.

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"Jackie's such a lovely person, she's so real and genuine, plus she is very talented. She did ballet as a little girl but it was when she sang at her school's performance that we knew she could sing. I heard a recording and was just blown away."

She said her cousin had a bright future, and hoped she would still be able to fit in singing at their Nelson wedding in February.

On last night's show, the Coaster, who at the beginning of the competition often seemed a bit insecure, was overwhelmed and in tears when the final results were announced.

"I never thought I could do this, and I have," she said.

- Nelson

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