Two best friends from Sunderland who scooped a £15million National Lottery jackpot say their new-found wealth has not changed them.
Paula Barraclough, 45, and Lorraine Smith, 54 - known to each other as Polly and Lolly - shared the £15,342,900 prize after matching all six numbers back in February this year.
Now almost nine months on from their win, the pair, who have been close pals for 17 years, say that although their circumstances have changed, their feet remain firmly on the ground.
The former cooks were speaking at Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice, in Middlesbrough, where they helped unveil a giant gingerbread play house they had helped to build along with other Lotto winners from across the country.
Lorraine and Paula, along with fellow winners Kim and Ian McCarthy, from Washington, were invited to take part in the charity initiative by the National Lottery and said it was a great cause to support.
Lorraine, who has given up working as a cook said: “My niece used to work here when she was doing her nursing so it is nice to be here and help a worthwhile cause.”
Paula has also been able to give up her job as a cook and decorate her home.
She said: “It has been life-changing - it hasn’t changed us as people but it has changed our lives in the way of how we live.
“It’s changed in the way that we are able to buy whatever we want without worrying that we can’t afford it.”
Lorraine, who said one of the first things she wanted to buy after her win was a new frying pan, added: “I have a few frying pans now - I have gone a bit mad - they are all different shapes and sizes.
“It is really important to stay grounded, but it is nice to have that security, nothing has changed really.”
Paula added: “It has been a bit hectic sorting things out and coming to terms with it.
“We have had a couple of holidays together and have booked to go to Barbados together.
“I have bought a house and done it all up.
“I have even bought three puppies, French Bulldogs!”
Meanwhile fellow lottery winner Kim, 55, from Fatfield, who is a mum-of-two and grandmother to 18 month old Thea, said she has also stayed grounded despite her £1 million win
The former Gala Bingo gaming supervisor, won £1 million on Christmas day 2012 along with her husband Ian, 53, who worked at Nissan.
Since then the pair have enjoyed being able to look after their family and go on holidays, but it hasn’t been an easy ride for the couple after Ian suffered a heart attack in May this year.
She said: “He just thought he had indigestion when he had pains at 3:15am and he didn’t go to hospital until 2pm.
“He even drove himself there where they told him he had had a heart attack and had to have a stent put in.
“He is OK now and he is doing well on his medication.” Not long after they found out they had won the money the pair gave up their jobs - a luxury that they don’t take for granted after working for many years.
Kim added: “The first thing we did was book a family holiday to Florida.
“We had never been abroad in our lives we had always stuck to Bultins or London and Blackpool and other places in the UK when the kids were growing up.
“So one of the first things we did was go straight to the travel agent and book a holiday to Florida.
“Our first thought was wanting to look after our family and friends.
“But the first thing that I bought for myself was £250 worth of make-up from House of Fraser in the Metrocentre.
“We paid our mortgage off on our house and gave it to the older son as a wedding present and the younger son we bought him a house a couple of years ago which he has just sold - and his fiancé has sold her house so it has given them a nice deposit.”