Thu. Jan 24th, 2019

EuroMillions: ‘It’ll be fun to give away’ say NI jackpot couple

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Frances and Patrick Connolly PA
Frances and Patrick Connolly, who live in Moira, County Down, say they are overwhelmed

A couple from Northern Ireland have said they are overwhelmed at winning almost £115m in a EuroMillions draw.

Frances and Patrick Connolly, who live in Moira, County Down, matched the winning numbers in the New Year’s Day draw.

It is the fourth biggest UK EuroMillions win.

The lucky pair’s identities were revealed at a press conference just outside Belfast on Friday.

Speaking to the press, Frances Connolly said they were overwhelmed: “This is a massive sum of money and we want it to have a huge impact on the lives of other people we know and love as well as on our future too.”

The 52-year-old said the most important thing they have done since their win is make a list of people they want to give the money to.

‘Wonderful family’

“At the minute there are about 50 people,” she said, adding that most of those on the list do not know they are on it.

“It’s going to be so much fun giving it away,” she said. “The pleasure for me is going to be seeing people’s faces.”

Her husband Patrick Connolly, 54, said: “I’ve got a wonderful wife, a wonderful family and wonderful friends, so this is the icing on the cake.

Patrick Connolly said he was “blessed with a great family” before the win

“Money doesn’t bring you happiness. We already had happiness and were very blessed in life.”

‘Whirlwind’

The couple are regular Lotto players but only normally buy tickets for EuroMillions when there is a big jackpot.

Asked what they will do with the rest of the money, Mr Connelly said: “For the minute I’m retired, I need to digest this, but it won’t last long, I need to be doing something.”

Mrs Connolly, who worked for an online magazine for the voluntary sector, said: “I’ve wanted to do my PhD in clinical psychology and I can afford to do it now.”

The winning numbers were 01, 08, 11, 25, 28, with Lucky Stars 04 and 06.

The biggest lottery prize in UK history is the £161m EuroMillions jackpot won by North Ayrshire couple Chris and Colin Weir in 2011.

‘Life-changing’

Speaking to the BBC from the Culloden Hotel, where the press conference will take place at 10:00 GMT, Andy Carter, a winners advisor for the National Lottery, said its most important role is “looking after someone as they’re going through a really life-changing experience”.

Champagne awaits the winning couple at the Culloden Hotel in County Down

“We make sure they have access to good legal advice and good financial advice, but it’s primarily about supporting them through a period of both shock and excitement,” he said.

Mr Carter explained that the decision on whether or not to go public about a win can be a difficult one.

“It’s not right for everyone – you’ve got to consider what sort of person you are, what sort of family structure you have, how much you’ve won and are you able to hide it?

“The greatest advice is to take your time – do nothing quickly. Our advice is go away and have a holiday – take some time to really come to terms with it.”

He added that past winners rarely make ostentatious purchases at an early stage.

“We often ask them what was your first purchase and they’ll say the toilet seat was broken or the kettle wasn’t working. Nothing surprises us!”

Julie Flaherty, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme that the news had caused huge excitement in the area.

“It’s amazing news for this couple. We always knew we were lucky to live in the Orchard County and now it’s been proven! It gives everybody a wee bit of hope,” she said.

“Hopefully they’re a good, grounded family with plenty of people around to support them and they’ll be able to do some good with it.”

Past winners

Northern Ireland has had a history of big wins.

In December 2013, an unemployed woman from Strabane, County Tyrone, won almost £27m in the EuroMillions lottery.

At the time, Margaret Loughrey said that on the day she bought the ticket, she had been to the job market to get an application form for a job with a charity.

In 2004, a cancer patient from Belfast became the biggest ever winner of the UK’s National Lottery.

Iris Jeffrey scooped £20.1m with a ticket she bought on 14 July but only realised she had hit the jackpot the following month after hearing an appeal by lottery organisers Camelot.

EuroMillions is played in nine countries – the UK, Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland – with ticket-holders trying to win a share of the same jackpot.

NI EuroMillions jackpot winners revealed

A couple from County Armagh have said they are overwhelmed at winning almost £115m in a EuroMillions draw. The couple, Frances and Patrick Connolly from Moira, matched the winning numbers in the New Year’s Day draw. It is the fourth biggest UK EuroMillions win.

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