A syndicate comprising of current and former employees of a community group in Northern Ireland has scooped £1m in a recent EuroMillions draw.
The 23 strong syndicate from the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership in Londonderry will now pocket more than £43k each after discovering that the EuroMillions UK Millionaire Maker code on their ticket for the draw on Tuesday 31 July was a winner.
Ten days ago, The National Lottery started a search across Co. Londonderry for the unclaimed £1m prize – but syndicate manager Rory McParland was holidaying around Ireland at the time, unaware that a million-pound ticket was tucked in his wallet as he toured through Wicklow, Kilkenny, Killarney, Dingle, Tralee and Galway.
It wasn’t until Rory, 44, returned home that he heard the news of the unclaimed prize from his fellow syndicate members.
“The news of an unclaimed £1M ticket had obviously spread around Derry,” said Rory, who is well known to keep tickets in his wallet for weeks without checking.
“So when I got home from holiday, the rest of the syndicate were naturally eager for me to check our tickets and see if we were the lucky winners.
“We’ve never won much before so hopes weren’t high when I took my tickets back to the Supervalu store where we’d bought them if the first place. As she checked the tickets, the shop assistant told me that we’d won £3 on one line, £5.20 on another and then £7.60 on another – which is our usual form.
“Then she stopped and said that we were going to have to call The National Lottery about one particular line as she wouldn’t be able to pay that amount over the counter. I asked what she meant and all she could tell me was that we had won ‘big money’,” he added.
Sharing the news with his fellow syndicate members was a moment Rory said he will never forget.
“So I rushed back to work and gathered as many colleagues together as I could to tell them the news,” he continued. “Then we all started checking our phones and the internet to see if we could find out how much we’d won.
“All of a sudden, people were saying ‘I think we’ve won a million’ and before we knew it, we were all jumping around the place, going mad, shouting and cheering. I think there were even a few tears shed.
“It was an incredible moment that I, and I’m sure all involved, will never forget.”
The syndicate of 23 is made up of existing and former staff at the Greater Shantallow Area Partnership (GSAP), a community support agency operating across the northern part of Londonderry city.
GSAP works with local residents, community and voluntary groups, statutory agencies, local schools, and private sector organisations to help improve the social, community, economic and physical regeneration of the area. The registered charity also provides a broad range of services, programmes and activities to individuals, families and communities in the area to help improve residents’ health and well-being, increase their skills and qualifications and overall improve their quality of life.
Its work also involves supporting others to access Lottery funding to address need in our community.
For years, the GSAP syndicate has been playing EuroMillions and Lotto, buying tickets for every draw and accumulating winnings to be shared at the end of the year.
“We’re still trying to come to terms with what has happened and take it all in,” said Rory. “It still doesn’t seem real for any of us. We’re just a group of ordinary people and I suppose none of us ever really thought we would win such a huge amount of money – but it just goes to show that you never know what’s around the corner.
“To think that this one win will change the lives of 23 families is amazing, whether it pays for a dream holiday, helps with the mortgage or whatever each member chooses to spend it on. Personally, I love holidaying in my touring caravan and have been wanting to buy a new car for ages – so I think that I’ll be spending some of my winnings on that,” he added.