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We All Think We Would Like a Big Lotto Win ...
04 Oct 2006

... but would a fortune really make us happy?

Vicky Henderson is a happy woman - and who can blame her?

The 36-year-old, from Holgate, York, is still bubbling after she and husband Mark scooped no fewer than 20 prizes on Ant And Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway at the weekend.

The couple are still coming to terms with their fantastic win, which included two cars and two foreign holidays, one a Nile cruise and the other a trip to Iceland (the island, not the store).

"We just had a fantastic night that night," she says. "It was a real buzz!"

Vicky, a police control room operator, admits Mark did all the hard work during Ant and Dec's Grab The Ads quiz. She either had her head in her hands, or was "jumping around like a demented kangaroo".

But the pair had worked out their strategy beforehand, she says, which was to go for it.

"We decided you've got to go for it," she says. "If we'd gone home with nothing - well, we would have been gutted, but it wouldn't have made any difference. It is better to regret something you've done than something you haven't done.

"So I can honestly say that even if Mark had gambled and lost, I wouldn't have been any less happy. Whatever happened, we'd been on the show - and I kissed Declan Donnelly."

What Vicky and Mark didn't realise, as they were taking part in their dramatic Saturday night quiz, was that another Holgate couple who lived a few streets away were quietly scooping them, winning almost 2.5 million on the National Lottery.

The couple have so far preferred to remain anonymous and who can blame them? A 2.5 million win can change your life for good. They will need time to themselves to think about what they are going to do with the money.

Most of us dream about what we would do if we struck it lucky. A big new house, a flash car, the freedom to give up work to travel the world.

But would winning a fortune overnight really make you happy?

Vicky doesn't think so, necessarily. If you were happy before, she says, then maybe yes. But if you weren't, money wouldn't by itself make you happy. "Though I think it would make life easier, of course it would."

Her and Mark's own win, while wonderful, wasn't life-changing, she said. They would enjoy the holidays when the time came, but they still had to decide what to do with the two cars. "And we've still got to go to work, and get up in the morning to take the children son Liam, 15, and daughter Levi, eight to school."

So what would they have done if it had been them who won 2.5 million?

Vicky pauses. "I think you would need to take some time to think, wow! this has happened', then sit down and discuss where you were," she said.

She would probably give up work when the time was right, she said - not to lead a life of idleness, but to start her own business.

"Although that said, I do love my job, and I would be hard-pushed to give it up."

She would invest for the future. "I'd want my children to grow up knowing they were secure." And she would also want to make sure her and Mark's wider family were all right. "You couldn't be happy knowing you were secure for life but that a member of your family was struggling. That wouldn't give me any joy."

Then they would probably splash out on a nice holiday, she said. "You don't put 2.5 million in the bank, then go to Scarborough for the weekend."

Tony McDaid knows what it is like to win a lot of money.

The former assistant transport manager with The Press pocketed more than 100,000 earlier this year when he scooped the national bingo jackpot at Clifton Bingo Club.

Had it made him happy?

"It has certainly made my life better," he said.

He isn't one for flash cars, although he does now own two Vauxhall Astras, while his wife, Silvana, has a Ford Fiesta.

The couple, from Acomb, have done the house up to add value as insurance for the future. And they have also taken a number of holidays. "I went to the Isle of Wight and Tunisia, I've been to London, Scotland, Great Yarmouth," Tony says.

What has given him more enjoyment than anything, however, is sharing money out with his family. "That has given me no end of satisfaction." And he also put on a free night at the pub for friends, and staff from the bingo club.

There is a cost to winning big, however, said Tony, who no longer works for The Press but is hoping to become a taxi driver. For a few days after his big win, he felt "physically and mentally sick".

"I just could not come to terms with the fact that all of a sudden I had got a vast amount of money," he said. "There was so much going through my mind all the time, like what am I going to do with my life?'"

With a life-changing amount such as 2.5 million, such feelings of confusion could be even worse, Tony suspects. There could also be jealousy and envy from family and former friends.

That said, such a win probably would have made him happy, he admits. His 100,000 seemed like a lot, but didn't go that far. With 2.5 million, he would have been able to ensure all of his and Silvana's children were secure.

"Friends and family, they're the most important thing," he said.

Kenny Southwell, from Fulford, York, shot to fame when he scooped more than 800,000 in the first National Lottery draw in November, 1994.

Mr Southwell, who died earlier this year, did not allow his win to go to his head. He remained down to earth, and continued to live in the city he loved.

He splashed out on a Porsche and Range Rover, but invested much of his winnings in property and on securing his family's future.

Others who have won big in York include:

November, 2005: Former rock-and-roll frontman turned IT consultant Roger Griffiths, from Boston Spa near Tadcaster, scooped 1.8 million on the lottery.

September, 2005: A six-strong syndicate from Cawood, near Selby, won 320,000 after matching five numbers plus the bonus ball. It was the village's third win in 12 months.

June, 2005: Eleven members of a Lotto syndicate at the Tesco store in Driffield, East Yorkshire, won 18 million.

April, 2005: York grandmother Diane Downing bought a Harley Davidson motorbike for her husband, Kevin, and a new VW Golf for herself after winning 3,964,330 from a double rollover pot.

March, 2004: Nine workers at Europower Hydraulics, in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, shared more than 7 million in a double rollover draw.

December, 2003: Two stewards at the Knaresborough Working Men's Club - husband and wife Alex and John Dyer - won almost 6 million in a Lotto Extra draw.

March, 2002: Sherburn-in-Elmet couple Colin and Jackie Darbyshire scooped 1.5 million.

December, 2001: A syndicate of three from the Groves Working Men's Club in Penley's Grove Street, York, won 76,000.

August, 1998: York nursery nurse Debbie Sawyer won 44,000 on her wedding day.

October, 1997: A 13-strong syndicate from The 10 O'Clock Shop in Poppleton Road, York, each received more than 167,000.

May, 1997: Grandparents Cynthia and Basil Taylor won 3.2 million, after buying a last-minute ticket at Pybus newsagents, in Boroughbridge.

The Psychologist's View

Winning the Lottery is not always a recipe for joy and rejoicing, says psychologist and writer Dr Dorothy Rowe.

There can, of course, be huge benefits. Financial security for yourself and your children, among them.

"Being able to know that your children are financially secure, for many parents that is a wonderful thing," she said. People who had always had clear priorities and ambitions would also do well, she said. "They will be able to fulfil them."

But those who had no clear idea of where they wanted their lives to go could find themselves adrift and confused.

Everybody has dreams about what they would do with lots of money, she says - buy a big house, pay off the mortgage, go on a dream cruise.

The reality could be very different - and no two Lottery winners were the same.

Many big Lottery winners would feel very anxious, she said - even guilty - because they felt they had done nothing to deserve the money. They might react in different ways.

Some would feel the urge to give money away, to charities, family or friends. "That shows that you're a good person, that you're not nasty or selfish."

Others would invest in a business, but instead of then sitting back and taking things easy by getting someone else to run it for them, feel they had to run it themselves.

Some would unconsciously feel that such massive good fortune had to be balanced by bad luck. "Some lottery winners set about creating a disaster for themselves, so that it balances out the reward of winning," Dr Rowe said.

Still others felt so guilty they were driven to fritter their money away in ridiculous spending sprees. "They do whatever they can to get rid of it."

Winning the Lottery could also affect your life in other ways, Dr Rowe said. It could alter your sense of identity, for example. A working class couple who bought a big house in a middle class area could feel horribly out of place.

A big win could lead to jealousy and envy. "Quite a few Lottery winners have said that they lost their friends, or that other friends suddenly came out of the woodwork." And they could even lead to rifts within families.

Sibling rivalries between brothers and sisters could easily be inflamed if one brother or sister won a lot of money. Old resentments that had lain hidden from childhood could return among the brothers and sisters who hadn't won, she said. "There is this feeling that I've been good, it is not fair.'"

Problems aplenty, then. None of which will stop us all dreaming.

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