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

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

A couple from Northern Ireland have made a list of 50 people with whom they intend to share their £115m EuroMillions win.

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 and the biggest in NI.

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

Speaking to the media, Frances Connolly said the money will be shared between family, friends and charitable causes.

“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 was to have made 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 yet 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 their 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.

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

Mr Connolly is a businessman who once ran his own firm. He predicted he would not be able to sit around long before he had to get back to doing something.

He said his expertise was in manufacturing and he hoped to create more jobs using part of their fortune.

They said they were hard-working people who did not carry a lot of debt and did not indulge in luxuries before their win.

“We are quite level-headed people, we’re not overly extravagant – yet,” said Mr Connolly.

Asked by a reporter if they had thought about personal security, Mrs Connolly quipped: “I’ve never met anyone I couldn’t take down myself!”

The couple – who have three daughters and three grandchildren – are regular Lotto players but only normally buy tickets for EuroMillions when there is a big jackpot.

The pair live in a rented home and were previously considering a move to Croydon in March as Mr Connolly had been offered a new job as an operations manager.

Mrs Connolly, who had worked as an educational programme coordinator, is planning to do a PhD in clinical psychology.

The winning numbers – 01, 08, 11, 25, 28, with Lucky Stars 04 and 06 – were selected at random, they said.

“Totally random, sure how would you pick those numbers? They’re weird,” Mrs Connolly joked, before adding that a holiday to Mauritius is on the cards.

She admitted that she will find it heartbreaking to read letters from people the couple cannot help, adding: “It will keep me up at night.”

After the press conference, the couple went outside the hotel and laughed and joked as they sprayed champagne and kissed for photographers.

At one point, Mrs Connolly joked with the assembled media pack that she only wanted images that showed her with “one chin”.

The grandparents punched the air and waved their bumper cheque as the champagne flowed to toast their win.

After spraying multiple bottles, Mrs Connolly asked lottery advisers: “Who’s going to clean all this up?”

Speaking to BBC News NI, Andy Carter of the National Lottery said its most important role is “looking after someone as they’re going through a really life-changing experience”.

“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.

“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!”

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.

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