A FORMER miner has struck gold by winning £1million on the National Lottery.
Ex-Washington pitman Thomas Harwood spent more than a quarter of a century toiling underground.
Now the great-grandfather, who has recently beaten mouth cancer, is sitting on a gold mine after winning the seven-figure prize in the EuroMillions draw.
Mr Harwood plans to spend his cash on his life-long dream – a caravan by the seaside.
“It’s brilliant, but if I hadn’t have beaten the cancer I wouldn’t be here to enjoy my winnings,” he said.
“Recently life’s not been very good, but £1million will my change my life.
“I’m still in a tizzy. I can’t believe it. My biggest win before this was £90 on the lottery.”
The 72-year-old was presented with his cheque yesterday at Hardwick Hall, Sedgefield.
Mr Harwood’s win came on what would have been his mother Olivia’s birthday and he was visiting her grave to lay flowers – unaware of the fortune that awaited him.
Two days later, he checked his ticket and found out he had become a millionaire.
He said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was just staring at the screen.
“I phoned my son Leigh and said ‘I’m not kidding you this time, this is the number.’
“Leigh’s friend checked it out and phoned him back, saying: ‘tell your dad he’s a millionaire’.”
He added: “I didn’t check my ticket until the Sunday. My daughter-in-law came round with my dinner and asked if I’d checked the numbers.
“I told her I’d do it on Monday, but after falling asleep in front of the snooker I thought I might as well check them.
“When I realised I’d won, my heart started thumping and I didn’t know what to do.
“When I went to the local shop to make sure, I could barely walk.”
Mr Harwood worked at pits in Washington, Ferryhill and Metal Bridge.
He now lives in a bungalow in Ferryhill, which he moved into with his mother to look after her until her death in 1999.
Mr Harwood said he plans to buy a static caravan in Redcar. He also plans to help his granddaughter with her university tuition fees and buy her a car.