A couple who won £12.4 million on the Euromillions and celebrated with a simple Chinese takeaway have told how they decided to hand cheques to friends and family in need.
The duo, from Sale, Manchester were just ‘on-and-off’ EuroMillions players when they hit the jackpot in 2010, with Nigel Mather, now 55, working as a hotel manager at the time, while Sharon, now 50, having just returned to work In finance at Trafford Council from maternity leave, following the birth of the couple’s second son.
The family handled their life-changing win modestly, moving to a house they still live in and buying a holiday home in Wales – before writing out a list of people close to them to donate to.
Describing the moment of the win over a decade ago, Sharon told Manchester Evening News that they picked up the ticket while on holiday and only discovered they had won when they returned home.
The decision as to what their first purchase would be was a no-brainer – a bungalow for Sharon’s dad.
A year after their win they moved to Bowdon – in the home they still live in now – and decided on a holiday home in Abersoch, north Wales.
After initially rejecting going public, Sharon and Nigel soon changed their minds when they realised that it would make helping family and friends more difficult and see them having to lie about their sudden windfall.
‘It wasn’t about showing off,’ Sharon said. ‘It was about helping the people close to us and not lying
And when it came to gifting some of their winnings to family and friends, it became a bigger operation – one Sharon says was reminiscent of the ‘Secret Millionaire’.
‘My husband used to be a hotel manager and he made a spreadsheet and went round to about 30 friends and family’s houses and it was almost like Secret Millionaire.
‘We have always said we class it as a responsibility to have that amount of money and we want to do good with it and not waste it or blow it.’
‘We made a little card and put a cheque in it and gave it to them.’
But it also came with an important message from Nigel.
‘He said a great thing,’ Sharon said. ‘He said ‘whatever we have given you – because some we had maybe just met and just gave them a token – please don’t look at it in reflection of what we have won, just think of what difference that money will make to you’.
‘We can’t give it all away because we needed to look after us and we had two young children. We’ve got the rest of our lives to go but wanted to make a difference to as many lives as we could along the way.
However, one of their biggest donations was to Manchester’s Francis House Hospice, which was very close to their hearts following the death of their niece, aged 18.
Nigel is also now the chairman of local charity Stockdales, which his mother used to work at.
After going to visit with Christmas presents one year, they fell in love with the place and have regularly donated to them after their win, helping organise other fundraising events such as a golf day and an autumn ball.
It has also been important for Sharon and Nigel to keep their sons grounded as they grow up with millionaire parents