A lottery winner who picked up a £2.7 million jackpot 25 years ago is still stacking shelves at a supermarket because she wants to be a good role model for her children.
Elaine Thompson, 64, from Killingworth, north Tyneside, works at Marks & Spencer, starting her shifts at 2am and finishing at 9am.
She became a millionaire in December 1995 after winning the lottery.
However, together with her husband Derek, Elaine decided to carry on working so that she would be a good role model to her children Karen and Gary, who were five and 10 at the time.
Despite being vulnerable due to her asthma, she continued to work throughout the coronavirus lockdown, starting her shifts at 2am.
Elaine Thompson, 64, from Killingworth, north Tyneside, working at Marks & Spencer despite her lottery win 25 years ago
Together with her husband Derek, Elaine decided to carry on working so that she would be a good role model to her children
Pictured with her husband Derek and brother Ian after her win. Despite being vulnerable due to her asthma, she continued to work throughout the coronavirus lockdown
The 64-year-old Marks & Spencer worker, said: ‘I did the 2am starts everyday so I’m in from 2am to 9am.
‘The company was fantastic. They let me go at 8.30am because I’m asthmatic and I’m vulnerable so I was not with any of the customers.
‘I was leaving the house at 1.15am every morning, I get up at midnight.
‘A couple of times during lockdown it was really really hard.
‘I was driving to work thinking ‘What am I doing?’
‘But I kept working all the way through. I could not have done furlough. I’m coming up to 65 next week but I’m not ready to retire yet.’
Speaking about her decision, Elaine added: ‘I had two young children at the time when I made the decision.
‘It’s important that children see you working hard, and that we don’t get anything out of life unless you work hard for it.’
She hoped to inspire her children to be the first in the family to go to university, which they later achieved.
The couple will celebrate 25 years since their lottery win this year, on the same date they celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Although she and semi-retired accountant husband Derek, 62, don’t currently have any plans, they often like to visit Las Vegas on holiday.
Lottery winner and catalogue shopper Elaine Thompson relaxes by a jacuzzi with some champagne and a Freemans catalogue with models
National Lottery presenters Frank Bruno, Bob Monkhouse and Mystic Meg celebrate the 100th jackpot draw with some of the past winners (back l to r) Bob Westland ( 3.7m), Ken Southwell ( 900,000), Elaine Thompson ( 2.7m), Peter Lavery ( 10.2m) and karl Crompton ( 10.9m)
Aside from dozens of trips to Vegas, the couple also helped Gary, now 30, and Karen, now 35, to buy their first houses and get on the property ladder.
One of the first things they splashed out on after winning was a new Ford Fiesta and later they bought three racehorses.
But the early supermarket shifts four days a week help to keep Elaine grounded.
‘People ask me why I have not got a cleaner. If she came to clean, I would have cleaned the house before she got here.
‘For me, I was brought up to be a hard worker, I love to work.
‘I have got the best job in the world,’ she said.
Elaine added: ‘I absolutely love my job and just because I won the lottery, this didn’t make me want to give up work. I think it is all about balance.
National Lottery presenter Anthea Turner (centre) joins past jackpot winners to celebrate the game’s fifth anniversary. Elaine is far left
‘I have continued to work but work hours which are more suited to me and with the remainder of the time I have been able to help out at and support charities which are close to me.’
A nationwide survey of 2,000 British workers revealed how some people would pursue their dream career if they won the lottery, like Elaine and Derek.
The importance of careers for people in Newcastle wouldn’t change even after a potential lottery win, with 38% of those polled in the city saying if they were to win big, they would take the opportunity to learn a new trade.
Almost a quarter (24%) say they would focus on charity work and 20% say they would study for their pilot’s licence.
Camelot’s senior winners’ advisor, Andy Carter said: ‘2020 seems to have left many of us wanting more from our jobs, thinking about what our next career move might be or jacking it all in to do something that we really love.
‘Our passion for gardening and cooking in lockdown and months of home-schooling has clearly inspired the nation to consider a career overhaul and realise the importance of job satisfaction.
‘And the importance of our careers doesn’t appear to change even after a lottery win, with only a few looking to quit their jobs if they win.
‘Over half of National Lottery winners still work in some capacity and just under a quarter of them have started their own business after their win, turning their hand to floristry, hairdressing – we even have one that has invented their own spicy sauce!’
Mixed fortunes! While one ’90s Lotto millionaire still works at M&S, Femail reveals how her fellow winners include an Elvis act who turned to alcohol and William Hague’s aunt who bid £12,000 to appear on a Terry Wogan quiz show
by Chloe Morgan for MailOnline
After a lottery winner who picked up a £2.7 million jackpot 25 years ago revealed she is still stacking shelves at a supermarket, FEMAIL has taken a look back at how previous winners decided to spend their fortune.
Elaine Thompson, 64, from Killingworth, north Tyneside, who became a millionaire in December 1995 after winning the lottery. told how she still works at Marks & Spencer because she wants to be a good role model for her children.
However, not all winners have stuck to their day jobs, with some finding their lives spiralled in ways they could never have imagined – proving that wealth doesn’t always equal happiness.
Elvis impersonator Gary Ashmore, from Reading, who won £1.6m aged 26 in 1997, found himself battling with booze after moving to Gran Canaria, while Penny Haigh, from Doncaster, who won £1.3m in 1996, and owned an engineering company with her husband John, opted for early retirement and gave the business to her three sons.
GARY ASHMORE; winner of 1.6m in 1997
When Elvis impersonator Gary Ashmore, from Reading, won £1.6m at the age of 26, he ensured his family enjoyed some of the good fortune, buying his mum and dad a limited edition Mercedes Turbo and his uncle a Land Rover Discovery.
Treating himself with his winnings, Gary, who collected Elvis memorabilia and even performed an Elvis routine in local pub, bought around 13 Mercedes and put all of his efforts into becoming a pop star.
However, a few years later, he was still living with his mother and step-father and seeking a relationship.
‘I’m bored now,’ said Gary, speaking to BBC in 1999. ‘I miss work and mixing with people.’
Gary, who had a new-found hobby as a medium, was earning £20,000 a year as a service adviser for a Mercedes branch in Slough when he hit the jackpot.
He quickly bought a £54,000, C36 saloon, which he swapped for a £40,000 SLK convertible and then £54,000 Mercedes S320.
£1.6 million lottery winner Gary Ashmore (pictured) posed with his top-of-the-range £54,000 R- reg Mercedes C36 in Slough after hitting the jackpot
Past Lottery winners (left – Right) Christine Winters from London, James and Pat Venton from St. Austell, Cornwall, and Gary Ashmore from Reading on a Sealine T51
After changing his mind again for a SL320 worth £66,000, he paid off his parents’ £80,000 mortgage and forked out £17,000 on flights for three friends to visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion in Memphis, Tennesse.
But with boredom setting in, Gary then spent the winter renting out a £7, 000 a month bungalow in Gran Canaria with a friend – but the time abroad soon spiralled into a binge boozing session.
‘We’d have two bottles of cheap wine before we went out to give us confidence with the girls and then it would be more wine, lager and eight or nine vodkas,’ he told the publication.
‘We were addicted to vodka and Red Bull. But as someone who’s only ever been able to handle four pints, my body took a hammering.’
When Gary returned to the UK, he checked himself into rehab – and then joined a dating agency in the hope of finding a long-term relationship.
But the jackpot winner found himself on a TV show about losers in love – where Central TV paid a model £360 to date him.
It wasn’t long before Gary reportedly found himself down to £1, 0000 and living off the £5, 000-a-month interest. Before the money slipped away, he invested with partners in a bar in Reading.
‘I have always wanted to run a bar – especially an over-25s bar and the Café du Sport in St Mary’s Butts is just the kind of business I want to be in,’ he said, speaking to Berkshire Live in 2004.
PENNY HAIG; winner of 1.3m in 1996
Penny Haigh, now around 70, from Doncaster, who owned an engineering company with her husband John before she scooped the big win, gave the business to their three sons – before enjoying early retirement.
‘Early retirement was enjoyable but we missed working,’ she said, speaking to The Times in 2001. ‘The money meant that we could do something we always wanted and invest in a pub. We never worry about money and can take a holiday whenever we want to.’
It’s also been reported that Penny and her husband spent much of their time renovating houses – before selling them on for a health profit.
‘People think we Lottery winners must spend a fortune on our home,’ she said. ‘In fact, it’s our business.’
John added: ‘It gives us a good living so we can leave the Lottery win to grow.’
MARJORIE LONGDIN; won £856,000, in 1998
Lottery winner Marjorie Longdin (pictured), the aunt of Conservative leader William Hague, scooped £856,648 in 1998
Marjorie Longdin (pictured) gifted £100,000 each for her children, £250 for the nieces and nephews, and paid out for new gates for the church
The aunt of Conservative leader William Hague planned to buy a prized ram for her Yorkshire farm, new gates for her local church and treats for her family when she hit the jackpot, aged 73.
In 2004, Marjorie, a nurse in the second world war, was still living in the same house in Tickhill as she did before her win – and she admitted to never feeling guilty about having to work for the money.
‘No! Never felt guilty,’ she told The Guardian. ‘Camelot gave me very good advice – they said, ‘Enjoy yourself, Marjorie.’
Following her big win, Marjorie, who sadly passed away on 16th April 2020, aged 94, gifted £100,000 each for her children, £250 for the nieces and nephews, and paid out for new gates for the church.
She also treated herself and the neighbours to double glazing, swapped her fake Omega watch for the real deal, and purchased a new car – not to mention embarked on several cruises.
Marjorie, who was a big fan of Sir Terry Wogan, won a Children In Need auction at the cost of £12,000 – which paid for a guest spot on BBC Two’s quiz porgramme, Call My Bluff.
She openly praised the social element of winning the jackpot which she said felt like belonging to a club – and revealed she knew jackpot winner Elaine Thompson well.
‘She and her husband were at this recent do at the Cafe Royal, and we’re like old friends,’ she said in 2004. … but I always say I’m the poor relation because I didn’t win a million.’