A group of office workers were celebrating after winning a share of the UK's biggest-ever lottery prize. The seven-strong syndicate, all based in Merseyside, scooped £45,570,835.50 on Friday 6th November EuroMillions draw, which had a whopping total jackpot of £90 million.
The winners all work for Hewlett Packard, carrying out internal IT work at BT, only formed their syndicate - called The Magnificent Seven - four months ago. The syndicate includes John Walsh (57), James Bennett (28), Sean Connor (32), Alex Parry (19), Emma Cartwright (23), Ceri Scullion (35) and Donna Rhodes (39) who have each banked £6.5million.
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Syndicate leader John Walsh said: "I couldn’t sleep on Sunday morning so ended up checking the numbers on Teletext at 3am. I couldn't believe it when all our numbers came up. I had to wake up my wife and son and daughter so they could double check I wasn't dreaming. I had left the ticket in my drawer at work, so I went in on Sunday morning to make sure it was still there and then called the rest of the syndicate to tell them the good news. I didn’t quite get the response I expected because with the economy in the state it is in, everyone has been worried about jobs, so they all thought I was calling to tell them they had been made redundant. Thankfully I got to tell them some good news instead!"
The news was perfect timing for John as his wife Margaret was made redundant from her job with Woolworths in January this year. He added: "It wasn't a great start to the year but it's certainly looking up for 2010. We are now looking forward to a fabulous Christmas, hopefully starting with a family trip to New York, which is one of our favourite places, for a spot of Christmas shopping."
Alex Parry, who is the youngest winner in the syndicate, only left sixth form at Wallasey School, in Wirral, just over a year ago. She said: "I have a big family with a mum, a step dad, two sisters, a brother, a step brother and step sister so I will be making sure they all have a nice Christmas."
James Bennett is married and has two sons, aged six months and six. He said: "I honestly can't remember how I felt when I heard the news that we'd won. It is a complete blank. I have never owned a house and always rented so our first priority is to buy our own place. We've already been searching on the internet and it is the most amazing feeling to be able to click the button which says "no maximum price". It is hard to believe that these dream homes we are looking at are now in our price range. The best thing is knowing I can now support my children for the rest of their lives; there is simply no better feeling than that."
Donna Rhodes has lived in Liverpool for ten years and lives with her partner David, and their two teenage children. She said: "I didn't have any holidays left and was due to work all over Christmas so the best news is I won't have to anymore and instead I can hand in my notice! My mother Gladys is in her 70s and is the sole carer for my brother who suffers from MS, so we are hoping to buy a big house so they can come to live with us and we can help look after him as well. We'd also love a little holiday home in Malta. I got a call telling me the news while I was at a Remembrance Sunday parade. I shouted out with joy and started dancing down the street. I think everyone thought I had gone completely loopy. It's just such an amazing feeling."