How £25m lottery winning dinner ladies can escape the perils of wealth: JAN MOIR offers a few words of advice

Well here’s a story to warm the cockles of your wind-blasted, storm-tossed, heavy winter hearts.

Five dinner ladies who work at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital in South Wales have won more than £25 million on the EuroMillions lottery.

Together with one recently retired colleague, the six-strong Catering Girls syndicate scooped the £25,476,778.30 prize last week, giving them more than £4.2 million each. Woow-ee!

Patients at the hospital are just going to have to do without their steamed sponge and custard for the time being, as the first thing the ladies did was to hand in their notice. The second thing was to book a trip to Las Vegas.

Together with one recently retired colleague, the six-strong Catering Girls syndicate scooped the £25,476,778.30 prize last week, giving them more than £4.2 million each. Woow-ee!

Together with one recently retired colleague, the six-strong Catering Girls syndicate scooped the £25,476,778.30 prize last week, giving them more than £4.2 million each. Woow-ee!

‘It has always been our dream, we have always said that if we win we are going to Vegas,’ said Julie Saunders, the syndicate leader. ‘Now we can do it and we can enjoy it and we are going to. Viva Las Vegas!’

Ladies! Let the gods of good fortune bestow a thousand congratulations upon your hair-netted heads. No doubt television companies are vying for the rights to film your trip at this very moment — what a marvellous programme that would be.

And it is hard to think of anyone more deserving of such a glorious windfall than a bunch of hard-working, tattie-peeling, soup-stirring, bread-buttering women who toil unseen in steamy conditions in an NHS hospital.


Sneaky plotter Priti Patel brazened it out when she was summoned back to Downing Street this week.?

The soon-to-be-ousted International Development Secretary plastered on a big ‘nothing-to-see-here’ smile as she arrived for her meeting with Theresa May.?

When she left No 10, she was still smirking like someone who had just sewn sardines into the hem of the Prime Minister’s curtains.?

Priti clearly thinks she is still a political force to be reckoned with. She doesn’t realise it is curtains for her, too.?


Joining Mrs Saunders, 56, will be Doreen Thompson, 56, Julie Amphlett, 50, Sian Jones, 54, Jean Cairns, 73 (the retiree) and Louise Ward, 37.

This is the beginning of their amazing journey, to Vegas and beyond.

The excitement and delight must be unbounded at this moment, as a new future suddenly unfurls before them.

However, at the risk of intruding on private joy, may I be bold enough to offer a few words of advice?

My poppy is a symbol of heartfelt gratitude?

Author Matt Haig has declared that he is not wearing a poppy this year. ‘I think it is shifting from a symbol remembering war’s horror, to a symbol of war-hungry nationalism,’ he announced to his 170,000 followers on Twitter.

‘The moment wearing a poppy feels an obligation, rather than a choice, the freedom soldiers died for begins to fade,’ he huffed later.

He is not alone.

Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian yesterday that he has had enough of Remembrance Day. He believes it to be a ‘synthetic festival whose time has passed’ and that the whole thing had become too self-congratulatory and reduced to the level of ‘corporate poppy’.

I don’t agree with either man on any point, particularly Haig’s snowflakey hysteria that wearing a red paper flower on your lapel is a whisker away from being a warmongering call to arms.

Poppies are personal choices, but it is a sad yet not untypical sign of the times that the wearing, or not wearing, of one has become another virtue-signalling totem for the terminally self-important.

Mostly, I think it is just wrong to assume why others wear poppies, and to dismiss their often heartfelt reasons for doing so.

This week, like every year, I will continue to make my donation to the Royal British Legion and wear my poppy with pride. Not to glorify war, not to show how patriotic I am, not because I am a victim of poppy tyranny, not to prove to the world that battered ol’ Britain is still a force to be reckoned with, not to signify some kind of tacit mighty-righty Brexit support and not as a war-cry to those who care to oppose British interests.

For me, and millions of others, a poppy is not a symbol of victory, but one of regret and remembrance.

I wear it as quiet support for soldiers past and soldiers present, in my father’s regiment and every other regiment.

I wear it to show my deep thanks to people I never met, to my great-uncles and others I never knew, in my family and in your family, who died and were maimed fighting for our freedoms — not so very long ago.

And also because by doing so, I am taking a tiny part in a moment of national mourning, in an annual ceremony whose rites and customs were laid down longer ago than most of us have been alive.

All this is still deeply meaningful to millions of people, who might be rather annoyed to have their emotions dismissed as synthetic.

Still, it doesn’t matter that Matt Haig and Simon Jenkins choose not to wear a poppy. It matters that we do.?

Since the State-franchised National Lottery began in 1994, followed by transnational lotteries such as EuroMillions ten years later, we have seen that lottery-winners do not always live happily ever after, surfing the world on a lovely jubbly wave of cash. Indeed, the escapades of many winners suggest that dealing with sudden wealth can be an overwhelming experience.

A massive win is rarely the carefree spend, spend, spend bonanza of popular conception. For a start, winners have to cope with complicated moral questions about how — or how not — to dispense their new-found wealth. Families and friends will be expectant. Strangers — among them the authors of sacks of begging letters — will be resentful.

Ladies of Neath, it might not seem like it now, but a lot of lottery winners end up being losers. Please don’t let that happen to you.

I'll be a bag lady

Italian designers Moschino have launched this dress that looks exactly like a clear, plastic dry cleaning bag.?

Available on the Brown luxury retail website, it costs £562 — and you have to buy a dress to wear underneath.

I know. Don’t all rush at once.

But readers, the party season is here and I admit to being sorely tempted.?

For if someone says: ‘Look at that old bag over there,’ then I will know for sure — for absolute definite — that they really do mean me.?

The first rule and the most important is this — stay friends. Whatever happens, promise me you will remain close to each other no matter what. You have each won a life-changing amount of money and despite what you think now, nothing will ever be quite the same again.

This is a unique experience and you will need each other to cope. So form yourselves into a self-supporting therapy group and promise each other to be empathetic through the bad times.?

Murray's baby bangers?

Congratulations to Andy and Kim Murray on the birth of their second baby girl. This has not gone unnoticed in his home town of Dunblane, where a butcher has made a sausage baby, below, to commemorate this great event.

‘We thought this would be a fun way to let people know,’ John Hill told his local paper. If someone says you look like you are going to have a sausage baby in Scotland, it usually means you’ve eaten too many bangers at a barbecue. Mr Hill’s version is made from links and a slice of Lorne sausage, a Scottish delicacy which is — no, I can’t explain it.?

Just imagine a sausage without a casing that has been sat on by former First Minister Alex Salmond, and you get the picture. Anyway, gorgeous gesture, even if it is the stuff of nightmares. Perhaps the Murrays should call the baby Lorna, in tribute to the tribute?

What bad times, you say? The awful truth is that some friends and family will be mad, not glad, about your good fortune. Lottery-winners I have interviewed have said how shocked they were at the number of relatives who would ring up and just boldly ask: ‘How much am I getting?’ Some just ‘expect’ a cut and ‘get angry’ when they don’t.

Quite often, the resentment never goes away. There is nothing you can do about this except be prepared for it — and use it as a way of separating true friends from false ones.

It is important to understand that the reason some people feel bitter is not because you have won, more that the arbitrary, random nature of a lottery win gets to them.

As the money is given away and not earned, those close to the winners often feel they have every right to make a claim on their good fortune.

Be aware that Camelot has had to set up a therapy scheme to assist their troubled Lottery players.

This is not for the losers, you must understand. It’s for the winners.

Ladies, that is the bad news — but stick together and you will be able to cope. The good news is that you will never again spend another second ladling porridge into plates or scraping 1,000 carrots before lunchtime.

So here’s to the two Julies, Doreen, Sian, Jean and Louise — have a wonderful, wonderful time. And remember that perhaps the best advice is, apart from a Las Vegas hotel suite, don’t rush into anything. Buy nothing and make no plans in haste.

After your group-break, take a long holiday with your family and allow the shock to sink in before you begin the rest of your life. And if all else fails, you know where I am.

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