The lucky Northern Ireland couple who won a staggering £114.9m EuroMillions jackpot on New Year’s Day say they plan to make “quite a few” of their loved ones millionaires.
Patrick, 54, and Frances, 52, Connolly from Moira, who have three daughters and three grandchildren, revealed yesterday that they have already drawn up a list of more than 50 people they want to share their fortune with.
Mrs Connolly would not disclose details of those they would be helping, but promised that “quite of few” of them would become millionaires.
“It is going to be so much fun,” she said.
“The pleasure for me will be seeing their faces and asking what they want us to do for them.”
The couple revealed how initially they couldn’t really believe that their lucky dip ticket was a jackpot winner, but eventually they celebrated with a cup of tea and a hug.
Going public with their good news at the Culloden Hotel in Co Down, the couple said they are also keen to use their vast wealth for community and charitable work. But Mrs Connolly said deciding how far to spread their good fortune will be tough.
“I’m going to cry myself to sleep that I can’t help everybody. That will be really tough,” she said.
They couple say they also hope to use their new wealth to support business ventures, community projects and charitable causes.
“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,” Mrs Connolly, 52, said.
“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 £115 million.”
Mr Connolly, 54, said the win felt “unreal”.
The affable couple said they sat in silence after they realised they had won, struggling to take it in.
“We don’t really do excited — perhaps I raised my voice just a bit at the time when I found out — but we celebrated with a cup of tea and a hug,” Mrs 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,” Mr Connolly added. “Then it started to dawn on us that it was true even though it still hasn’t sunk in.”
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, but new cars — an X-Type Jaguar and an Alfa Romeo — could be on the cards, along with a holiday to Mauritius and a trip to watch the Monaco Grand Prix.
The pair currently live in a rented home and were considering a move to Croydon in March as Mr Connolly had been offered a new job — but that plan has been shelved.
Describing themselves as “good, hard-working people”, Mrs Connolly said the win would not change them and insisted they will not be “joining the jet set”.
“I have a wonderful wife, wonderful family and wonderful friends, so this is the icing on the cake,” Mr Connolly said.
“Icing on a very nice cake,” his wife added. “We weren’t rich, but we’re very happy. Money doesn’t bring you happiness, but we already had the happiness. We have been very, very blessed in life and this is just the icing on the cake.”
• 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 Northern Ireland and set up home in Moira.
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 but has been off work with a knee injury. She plans to do a PHD in clinical psychology.
• See Ben Lowry, page 11