A COUPLE from Northern Ireland have become the fourth biggest National Lottery winners ever after scooping an incredible £114,969,775.70 EuroMillions jackpot on New Year’s Day.
And, instead of starting their celebrations with a wild shopping spree, Frances and Patrick Connolly decided their first priority was to write a list of family and friends to share their good fortune with – and it currently stands at over 50 lucky people who haven’t all been told!
Frances explains: “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. This win gives us the chance to really make a difference for our family and friends.”
The couple from Moira, Co Down, are regular Lotto players but only normally buy tickets for EuroMillions when there is a big jackpot.
Wth Christmas behind them and a big jackpot on offer, Frances (52) had decided to buy some tickets for the New Year’s Day draw when they were out shopping together but forgot. Instead of going back to the shop, Patrick (54) decided to play online and bought one Lucky Dip.
Frances said: “I always hoped we would win the lottery one day, but when we did, it would be just our luck that lots of others would win on the same day with the same numbers too – never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever win almost £115M!”
That same evening, Patrick was on his computer checking emails at around 10pm while Frances watched TV in the same room and he decided to check online to see if they had won anything.
He checked and the winning numbers matched their own. Then checked again on a few different sites and they still matched. Frances then remembers him sliding back in his chair to look at her. He turned the computer round and said: “Do you want the good news..?”
Patrick turned to Frances and calmly said ‘we’ve won’. Frances asked him how much, thinking it was maybe a few pounds and he said ‘no, we’ve won’.
She didn’t believe him at first but he assured her he wasn’t telling lies.
After staring at the numbers on the screen for what seemed like a lifetime, they received an official email from The National Lottery around 1am saying they had won and when they checked their account they were the only winners of the huge amount!
Patrick said: “We really didn’t know what to do or how to react and we didn’t sleep a wink that night. We rang Camelot at 8am in the morning to verify the win. Then it started to dawn on us that it was true even though it still hasn’t really sunk in.”
Frances added: “We don’t really do excited – perhaps I raised my voice just a bit at the time when I found out – but we celebrated with a cup of tea and a hug.”
Apart from sharing the huge win with those closest to them, the couple are still deciding how else to treat themselves. Frances would like to buy a second hand car – a Jaguar – and Patrick admits he just wants to shower his wife of 28 years with lots of really nice presents!
Frances tore a ligament in her knee some time ago so going shopping is a difficult pastime as standing around for long periods is quite hard to manage but a holiday to Mauritius could be on the cards as well as some trips to watch rugby matches and a F1 Grand Prix.
The couple met in 1989, have been together for 30 years and have three grown up daughters, as well as three grandchildren.
Frances is originally from The Glebe in County Tyrone and Patrick is born and bred in Belfast. They live in a rented home in Moira and were considering a move to Croydon in March as Patrick had been offered a new job as an Operations Manager. Since finding out about the win, he has now decided to retire for now.
Frances, who has educational qualifications and has worked previously as an Educational Programme Coordinator, had intended to do a PHD in September in Clinical Psychology, and she is planning on continuing with her studies.
Frances adds: “We honestly thought we would never win anything like this. Never in a million years. I’m sure that lots of other people think the same but we are proof that it can happen to anyone and we feel so grateful and privileged that lady luck has landed at our door on this occasion.”
The winning EuroMillions numbers on 1st January 2019 were 01, 08, 11, 25, 28 and Lucky Stars number 04 and 06.
Since 1994, The National Lottery has been changing the lives of winners like Frances and Patrick as well as communities across the UK with players raising, on average, around £30 million for National Lottery funded projects every week.
In Northern Ireland alone there has been more than £1.2 billion awarded in National Lottery grants to more than 25,000 individuals, organisations and projects across the arts, sports, heritage, health, education, environment, charity and voluntary sectors.