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County Armagh couple win £115million EuroMillions jackpot

A couple who won the £115million EuroMillions jackpot on New Year’s Day today revealed they celebrated with a cup of tea having spent several excruciating hours believing it was all a scam.

Patrick and Frances Connolly, who rent a £115,000 end of terrace home in Moira, County Armagh, have become the fourth biggest lottery winners in UK history and one of Northern Ireland’s richest families overnight.

Today the grandparents kissed, punched the air, waved their bumper cheque wildly and sprayed bottles of Champagne as their extraordinary new £115million wealth was revealed. 

They told reporters in Belfast today they will make dozens of people they love rich – and none of them know they could soon be millionaires.  

The mother-of-three said: ‘We celebrated with a hug and a cup of tea – then wrote a list of 50 friends and family we would share it with. There will be more added to the list, no doubt. The joy for us will be when we tell them all face to face’. 

Teacher Mrs Connolly, who is off work with an injured leg, declared there is ‘no way I am joining the jet set’ and will shun a mansion for a bungalow ‘because I can’t walk up the stairs’ and buy a second hand Jaguar to replace their Renault Laguna.

She said: ‘I always hoped we would win one day – never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever win almost £115million. All the time we’ve been doing the National Lottery I don’t think we’ve got three tenners. We won £2.60 the week before. We’re chuffed to bits’.

Patrick and Frances Connolly have been revealed as the new winners of the EuroMillions, collecting £115million in the New Year’s Day draw and unveiled at a hotel in Holywood, Belfast today

The couple, who have been together for 30 years and married for 28, say they will not adopt a jetset lifestyle - but will buy a bungalow and a new car to replace their Renault Laguna

The couple, who have been together for 30 years and married for 28, say they will not adopt a jetset lifestyle – but will buy a bungalow and a new car to replace their Renault Laguna

Mr Connolly said they had enjoyed a wonderful and happy life together - and with their three daughters - and this win is the 'icing on the cake'

Mr Connolly said they had enjoyed a wonderful and happy life together – and with their three daughters – and this win is the ‘icing on the cake’

The couple admit their friends and family will share their wealth too - but none apart from their children know they are getting any cash

The couple admit their friends and family will share their wealth too – but none apart from their children know they are getting any cash

The lottery-winning couple rent this end of terrace house (centre) in Moira, County Armagh, and were about to move to Croydon because Mr Connolly was offered a new job, which he has turned down

The lottery-winning couple rent this end of terrace house (centre) in Moira, County Armagh, and were about to move to Croydon because Mr Connolly was offered a new job, which he has turned down

And when asked if she fears for their safety or being targeted by people begging for money she added: ‘I’ve never met anyone I couldn’t take down myself’. 

Lottery couple ‘won’t join the jet set’ and instead want a modest bungalow… but one of their twin daughters is upgrading from a hostel to a hotel on her way back from New Zealand! 

The £115million Euromillions couple today insisted their fortune won’t change them and they won’t buy a mansion or a new car.

Frances Connolly says she would like to buy a second hand Jaguar 

Her husband Paddy says he just wants to shower his wife with gifts, although a holiday to Mauritius could be on the cards as well as some trips to watch rugby matches and a F1 Grand Prix. He would also like his dream car, an Alfa Romeo 

The couple, who have been together for 30 years and have three grown-up daughters and three grandchildren, are still deciding how to treat themselves.

One of their twins is heading back to the UK from New Zealand, where she is doing her masters, and while they may not upgrade her flight home she can have a hotel room near the airport rather than a hostel, they joked.

Noting her leg injury, Mrs Connolly indicated a huge mansion was not on the cards.

‘I want a bungalow because I can’t walk up the stairs,’ she said. ‘There’s no way I’m joining the jet set.’ 

Mrs Connolly, who said their ticket was a lucky dip, insisted the win would not change them as people.

The grandmother of three said deciding how far to spread their good fortune would be tough.

‘I’m going to cry myself to sleep that I can’t help everybody. That will be really tough,’ she said.

Mrs Connolly said she was going to spend some of the money to support a local community football club in Hartlepool she used to work with, St Francis FC.

The couple lived in Hartlepool for 25 years before heading back to their native Northern Ireland.

Asked whether she would have to increase her personal security, Mrs Connolly joked: ‘I’ve never met anybody I couldn’t take down myself, to be fair.’ 

Mrs Connolly said they had always been happy but the win would make them a ‘hell of a lot happier’, adding that they would travel and help people in the community.

She added: ‘I cannot see us being in the limelight for a long time.

‘There are no skeletons, there are no dirty pictures, there is not enough to keep us in the public eye.’  

The teacher had ‘nagged’ her husband ‘Paddy’ to buy a ‘Lucky Dip’ ticket on New Year’s Day – but he was convinced it was a scam when he furiously checked the winning numbers online that night and they had to wait until 8am on January 2 to confirm it with Camelot.

Mr Connolly, 54, who plans to retire as an operations manager, will shower his wife with gifts – one for each of the 28 years they have been happily married – adding the win is ‘the icing on the cake’ for the happy life they’ve had.

He said: ‘We’ll get the nice cars and travel the world, not doubt. So yes, we’re looking forward to the next few years’. 

They have instantly joined the top 20 richest people in Northern Ireland and are far wealthier than country’s top sportsman, four-time major winning golfer Rory McIlroy. 

In an extraordinary press conference at a luxury hotel just outside Belfast, the couple revealed: 

  • Frances and Patrick Connolly forgot to get ticket on New Year’s Eve so he bought one online on New Year’s Day after his wife ‘nagged him’
  • They scooped £115m on a lucky dip – but Patrick says he didn’t believe it initially, thought it was a scam, and checked the numbers four times on four websites before telling his wife; 
  • He asked her: ‘Do you want the good news? We’ve won’ – Mrs Connolly asked it it was ‘more than a tenner’ and her husband said: ‘No you don’t understand. We really won!’
  • Fearing it was an online scam they waited for three hours until they had an email confirming the jackpot was their’s – they had to wait until 8am to speak to the National Lottery on the phone;
  • The stunned couple had a cup of tea, shared a hug and then compiled a list of 50 people they plan to make rich – and many will be handed more than £1million;

The father-of-three revealed he was ‘nagged’ into buying a ticket by his wife on New Year’s Day after forgetting the day before and said they have ‘never won more than a tenner’. 

Just before bed he looked up the numbers on several Lotto number checking websites but each time they said they won the jackpot he became dubious, but did tell his shell-shocked wife. 

She swore at him before giving him a big hug and making him a hot drink.

Mrs Connelly said today: ‘We then sat in silence and stared at each other for ten minutes and stayed up all night’. 

At 1am Mr Connelly got an email from the National Lottery saying he had won the jackpot but it only became ‘real’ at 8am when they could telephone Camelot. 

They couple have told a few friends and their three daughter. 

Mrs Connelly described one big reveal and said: ‘Our friends were driving and it’s lucky they didn’t not crash the car – they went mental’.

Mr and Mrs Connelly played around as their wealth was revealed and are planning to buy a fairly modest car, a bungalow and a long holiday, probably in the Maldives

Mr and Mrs Connelly played around as their wealth was revealed and are planning to buy a fairly modest car, a bungalow and a long holiday, probably in the Maldives

The couple have a list of 50 people they will make rich from their windfall and many will receive more than £1million

The couple have a list of 50 people they will make rich from their windfall and many will receive more than £1million

Mrs Connolly said when she saw her husband was looking at the lottery she realised they must have won something

Mr Connolly said he checked the results and then turned to his wife and said: 'I think I've got some good news for you'

Mrs Connolly said when she saw her husband was looking at the lottery she realised they must have won something

Patrick and Frances Connolly, who are from Moira, County Armagh, have become the fourth biggest winners in UK history

Mrs Connolly, 52, said they celebrated in a low-key way, adding: 'We don't really do excited' - but their enthusiasm is clearly growing

Mrs Connolly, 52, said they celebrated in a low-key way, adding: ‘We don’t really do excited’ – but their enthusiasm is clearly growing

They have three grandchildren, two boys and a girl, from three daughters, one aged 30 and twins aged 24.

One twin is in New Zealand doing a Masters degree. She will be travelling home and, during her stopover, has upgraded from a hostel to a modest hotel. 

The couple, who lived in Hartlepool for 25 years before moving back to their native Northern ireland, can now enjoy wealth beyond their wildest dreams with no limit now on the homes they own, the clothes they wear or the cars they drive. 

But they were on the verge of moving to Croydon, south London, where Mr Connolly had been offered a new job as an operations manager. But he will now retire. 

The couple, who scooped £114,969,775.70, said their first priority was to write a list of family and friends to share their good fortune with.

They said the list stands at 50 – none of whom have been told of their imminent good fortune.

Mrs Connolly, 52, said: ‘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’. 

Mr Connolly, 54, said the win felt ‘unreal’ and his wife said: ‘The only thing I ever won was a guess the number of sweets in the jar’.

The couple said they sat in silence after they had realised they won, struggling to take it in.

Mr Connolly 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.’ 

The couple, who rent a house in Moira, are regular Lotto players but only normally bought tickets for EuroMillions when there was a big jackpot. Mr Connolly bought his lucky ticket online.

He said he checked the results on his laptop later that night and then turned to his wife and said: ‘I think I’ve got some good news for you.’

Mrs Connolly said when she saw her husband was looking at the lottery she realised they must have won something.

‘I said it must be more than £2.60,’ she joked. ‘We won £2.60 the week before.’

The parents of three daughters, who scooped £114,969,775.70, have become the UK's fourth biggest lottery winners

The parents of three daughters, who scooped £114,969,775.70, have become the UK’s fourth biggest lottery winners

The couple went public with their news at the luxury Culloden Hotel in County Down this morning - and said they didn't believe it at first

The couple went public with their news at the luxury Culloden Hotel in County Down this morning – and said they didn’t believe it at first

Who are the UK’s newest lottery millionaires? 

EuroMillions jackpot winners Frances and Patrick Connolly both went to Queen’s University Belfast.

She is from Glebe in Co Tyrone and he is from Belfast. They met at a wedding in 1989 and have been together for 30 years.

They spent 25 years working in Hartlepool, in Co Durham, and recently returned to a rented property in Moira, Co Down.

Mr Connolly ran a small business at one stage before going on to work for others. His expertise is in manufacturing.

Mrs Connolly worked as an educational programme co-ordinator and plans to do a PHD in clinical psychology.

They have three grandchildren, two boys and a girl, and three daughters, one aged 30 and twins aged 24. 

Mr Connolly paid tribute to his ‘wonderful’ wife and family.

He said they had never lived an overly extravagant lifestyle, joking that could be about to change.

He said he was retired for now while he decides what to do in the future while his wife said: ‘I am retired – 100%.’

They said they wanted to focus on charitable work in the future, on job creation and doing good deeds.

Mrs Connolly would not disclose details of those they would be helping but promised to create some more millionaires in a list of 50 people who will benefit from a share of their winnings.

She added: ‘It is going to be so much fun.’

‘The pleasure for me will be seeing their faces and asking what they want us to do for them.’

The couple went public with their news at the luxury Culloden Hotel in Co Down on Friday morning.

Mr Connolly is a business man and Mrs Connolly is a teacher who has been off work for a period of time due to a leg injury. 

Mrs Connolly, 52, said: ‘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.

‘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 £115million.’ 

Mrs Connolly, who said their ticket was a lucky dip, insisted the win would not change them as people.

The grandmother of three said deciding how far to spread their good fortune would be tough.

‘I’m going to cry myself to sleep that I can’t help everybody. That will be really tough,’ she said.

Mrs Connolly said she was going to spend some of the money to support a local community football club in Hartlepool she used to work with, St Francis FC.

The couple lived in Hartlepool for 25 years.

Asked whether she would have to increase her personal security, Mrs Connolly joked: ‘I’ve never met anybody I couldn’t take down myself, to be fair.’

Noting her leg injury, she indicated a huge mansion was not on the cards.

‘I want a bungalow because I can’t walk up the stairs,’ she said. ‘There’s no way I’m joining the jet set.’ 

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’.

She then expressed faux disappointment at one of her husband’s kisses, remarking: ‘I wanted a bit of tongue.’ 

Mr and Mrs Connelly have described the whole experience as unreal and are yet to fully discuss what they will do with their fortune

Mr and Mrs Connelly have described the whole experience as unreal and are yet to fully discuss what they will do with their fortune

This is the cheque that will soon be paid into their bank account, but the couple will now spread the wealth to the people they love

This is the cheque that will soon be paid into their bank account, but the couple will now spread the wealth to the people they love

At least three couples, including £148million winners Adrian and Gillian Bayford, splitting up after winning the life-changing sum having suffered the so-called ‘EuroMillions curse’.

In July 2011, Colin and Chris Weir became Europe’s biggest lottery winners when they scooped more than £161million.  The family made a £1million donation to the SNP shortly after winning.

The Bayfords won their fortune in August 2012 but their marriage ended 15 months later, having suffered the so-called ‘EuroMillions curse.

The third biggest winner was an unnamed ticket-holder who claimed just over £121million in October 2010 – but chose not go public.

The likelihood of matching the seven numbers in the EuroMillions draw is a staggering one in 139,838,160. 

In the New Year’s Day draw their winning EuroMillions numbers were 1, 8, 11, 25, 28 and the winning Lucky Star numbers were 4 and 6.  Another ten players won £1million each in the New Year’s Day draw.

The New Year’s Day win follows a series of high-profile lottery prizes in recent years.

In July 2011, Colin and Chris Weir, from Ayrshire, Scotland, became the biggest lottery winners in the UK, and across Europe, when they scooped more than £161 million.

Adrian and Gillian Bayford, from Suffolk, took home more than £148 million in August 2012, while the biggest prize awarded in the country in 2018 was £121 million, handed to an anonymous winner in April.

Football club promised lottery cash by couple admits: ‘It feels like we’ve won too’ 

The secretary of a community football club said ‘it feels like we’ve won the lottery too’ after £115 million EuroMillions winner Frances Connolly said she planned to help with its finances.

Trevor Robinson succeeded Mrs Connolly as club secretary at the Hartlepool St Francis club, which runs a series of teams for boys and girls in the north-east town.

He said he could not believe it when the new multi-millionaire announced at a press conference in Northern Ireland that she wanted to spend some of her vast winnings on the club she used to work with.

Mr Robinson said he had no idea how much money Mrs Connolly and her husband, Patrick, were planning to give but added that there was plenty of scope to spend it.

He said the 11 teams, which span ages from six-year-olds to 13-year-olds, currently change in temporary accommodation and the club is hoping to raise £400,000 to build a clubhouse.

Mr Robinson said a new clubhouse would be a community hub as well as a facility for the teams who play at Rossmere Park in the town.

He added: ‘I’m overwhelmed. It feels like we’ve won the lottery too. It’s mad.

‘We’ve grown from three teams to eleven and we’ve got girls involved too, so we’re getting bigger and bigger.

‘We’re more than just a football team, we’re part of the community.’

Mr Robinson said around 30 to 40 volunteers regularly help with everything from coaching to making tea.

‘The clubhouse is not just about the games, it would give families somewhere to go,’ he said. 

And last November, builder Andrew Clark, 51, from Boston, Lincolnshire, discovered he had won £76 million, six weeks after the draw.

He said he stockpiled tickets in his van, only checking them every three months.

Referring to himself as ‘the man who nearly lost £76 million’, Mr Clark revealed he stockpiled lottery tickets in the visor of his van and only checked after Trisha nagged him to.

Mr Clark has bought a four-bed house, an £80,000 Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63 and a Nissan Qashqai since he found out he was the winner last week.

He said he and his family will stay in the UK over the festive period and enjoy dinner in a restaurant in Skegness on New Year’s Eve.

Mr Clark also revealed that he will be sharing his millions with more than 20 people in his family, including Trisha’s 14-year-old daughter, who has special needs.

He said: ‘She will be set up for life. Any care she needs she will have.’

Self-employed Mr Clark revealed himself as the winner at a press conference in Grantham.

Mr Clark has two sons from a previous relationship and three granddaughters aged nine, six, and two. He has put £200 each in his grandchildren’s Christmas cards, adding they would all be ‘well looked after.’

He said: ‘They’ll not want for anything.

He celebrated going public with his huge £76 million jackpot by later watching his girlfriend’s daughter perform in a school nativity play while her ‘over excited’ mum was confined to bed with a migraine.

Self employed builder Mr Clark, 51, believed to be a divorcee, has his own home but mostly lives with his partner in her detached house in a quiet street in Boston, Lincolnshire.

She’s selling the £220,000 property – numbered unlucky 13 – to move into a ‘bigger and better’ dream home in the area.

The lucky winners have become the fourth-largest winner in UK lottery history after the bumper jackpot. Pictured: The New Year's Day draw taking place

The lucky winners have become the fourth-largest winner in UK lottery history after the bumper jackpot. Pictured: The New Year’s Day draw taking place

Who is the biggest ever UK lottery winner? Two couples and a former car mechanic top list

Here are the six previous biggest UK winners of the EuroMillions draw so far

1. In July 2011, Colin and Chris Weir became Europe’s biggest lottery winners when they scooped more than £161million.

The couple, who have been married for 30 years, said they were ‘not scared’ of the wealth because they were going to have ‘so much fun’ with the money.

The pair, a retired TV cameraman and a retired psychiatric nurse, from Largs, in Ayrshire, said their children Carly, a photography student, and Jamie, a call centre worker, would be bought their own homes and cars.

The family made a £1million donation to the SNP shortly after winning.

Colin and Chris Weir became Europe's biggest lottery winners when they scooped more than £161million in 2011

Colin and Chris Weir became Europe’s biggest lottery winners when they scooped more than £161million in 2011

2. Adrian and Gillian Bayford, from Suffolk, took home more than £148 million in August 2012.

The marriage ended just 15 months into their new jackpot winning lives, citing the stress of the money as the reason they needed to split.

At the time, a spokesman for Mrs Bayford said: ‘Gillian Bayford confirms that her marriage to Adrian has broken down irretrievably and they have separated.’

It came after Mrs Bayford was forced to deny she had an affair with the couple’s gardener, Chris Tovey. 

Adrian and Gillian Bayford, from Suffolk, took home more than £148 million in August 2012

Adrian and Gillian Bayford, from Suffolk, took home more than £148 million in August 2012

3. An anonymous ticket-holder took home £121m

4. Couple from County Armagh scooped the entire £115million EuroMillions jackpot on New Year’s Day 2019

5. An unnamed ticket-holder claimed just over £113million in October 2010, and chose not go public. 

6. Neil Trotter, from south London, won nearly £108million, going from former car mechanic to multimillionaire in March 2014.

Neighbours in Croydon described he and partner Nicky Ottaway moved out ‘almost overnight’ after they scooped the EuroMillions jackpot last March.

Mr Trotter admitted at the time that he was like his namesake, Del Boy Trotter from Only Fools And Horses.

Neil Trotter, with partner Nicky Ottaway, won nearly £108million, going from former car mechanic to multimillionaire in March 2014

Neil Trotter, with partner Nicky Ottaway, won nearly £108million, going from former car mechanic to multimillionaire in March 2014

7. A couple from Cambridgeshire, Dave and Angela Dawes, won more than £101million on their third go on the EuroMillions draw in October 2011.

Mr Dawes said he ‘didn’t sleep a wink’ the night of the win, as it was too late to call Camelot after the couple checked their numbers.

Last year, the couple were taken to court by his son, an Afghanistan veteran, Michael Dawes, 32, who said he was ‘ungenerous in spirit’.

But a judge ruled the millionaire father does not need to keep bailing out his son, who burnt through £1.6million in two years, and came back for more, failing to heed his stepmother’s advice to stop eating at the Ritz and go to McDonald’s instead.

8. A UK winner got a £93 million payout in June 2015, but decided to remain anonymous.

Dave and Angela Dawes won more than £101million on their third go on the EuroMillions draw in October 2011

Dave and Angela Dawes won more than £101million on their third go on the EuroMillions draw in October 2011

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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