19 February 2015
We don't know about you, but we could quite happily spend hours fantasising about what we would do with a huge lottery jackpot win. Forget the responsible things like paying off debts, saving and investing - we want a huge beachside villa, a fleet of luxury vehicles parked in front of it, wardrobes bursting with designer clothes and accessories, days filled with leisure and weekends spent at every must-see destination around the world. That's our lottery dream, and we're sticking to it.
Most of the lottery-winning stories we read back our fantasy up. Everyone else is just as excited about spending their winnings on big shiny things as we are. So far, so normal. But occasionally we read about lottery winners who use their new-found wealth for more important things than large-scale shopping trips - more important things like health, family and togetherness. And that's when we realise we've forgotten the most crucial item off our lottery to-do list - share it with those we love.
We may have left that point off our list, but sharing their lottery winnings with their family was the one and only plan Paul and Deborah Lawton had in mind when they won an incredible £6.9 million in the UK Lotto.
Similar to the emotions most lottery winners experience, Paul couldn't quite take his good fortune in when he realised his ticket was a winning one. A long-distance lorry driver, Paul had purchased his ticket on the Friday for the Saturday night draw, but was only able to check his numbers on the Sunday morning. And when he did, shock and disbelief ensued.
He recalls: "'One...two...oh, I've matched three numbers,' I thought. Then four, five and six matched too, so I checked them again, then I double-checked the date, and then I think I sat down in the armchair. I'm generally quite a calm person so didn't get too excited at this point but instead called Deborah at work and asked her to come home for 10 minutes."
Deborah duly came home from her job as a carer and verified their massive jackpot win - and then coolly went back to work to finish her shift. As parents to three daughters, Nicola, 26, and Deborah, 24, as well as their eldest, Tracey, confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, the Lawtons knew that they needed a family celebration to properly mark the occasion.
Mrs Lawton was the one to make the phone call to Nicola and Deborah: "I rang them to say we had some good news and could they pop round with their other halves. They arrived at 3pm sharp and Paul and I simply said 'We've won almost £7 million on the Lotto'.
"They all went pale and looked like they were going to pass out, then started shaking and shrieking with excitement. Tracey doesn't speak, but she just looked at us all like we had lost our minds - it was priceless. At that point we thought it was time to celebrate, so we cracked open the beers and had a little party, just the family together. It was a very special evening."
The Lawton's daughters may have originally thought their parents were playing a practical joke on them, but £7 million is no laughing matter - especially considering the family's plans for the money. Paul explains, "We live in a house that has been modified with Tracey's needs in mind but this win means that we can now search for a lovely big bungalow that can be fitted out properly. It will enrich her life so much and that's the most important thing on the agenda. Then we can look after Nicola and her husband and our wonderful three grandchildren, along with Deborah and her partner, who are expecting their first baby later this year."
The couple plan to continue working, albeit perhaps on a part-time or self-employed basis, although they will be allowing themselves one treat - a family trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Deborah's 50th birthday. As Paul explains, "It will simply be the most wonderful way to round off the year, knowing we can enjoy an incredible holiday and not have to worry about the money. We're very normal people and will remain so, but it makes me feel very happy inside to know that those I love most will be helped by this incredible stroke of good fortune."
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