England’s biggest-ever lottery winners have splashed out a small slice of their £148 million fortune – on a kids’ play centre.
Adrian and Gillian Bayford have bought the former Cheeky Chimps Funhouse in their home town of Haverhill, Suffolk, and plan to re-open it as Rascals Playhouse.
The couple vowed to “make others smile” when they scooped the jackpot last summer, and say the new business will give local kids somewhere to play.
Former healthcare assistant Gillian, 40, said they were previously forced to scrimp and save to throw a party at the venue for their own children.
The mother-of-two said: “At the moment there’s nothing for children from Haverhill and the surrounding villages.
“We wanted to give them somewhere to go, we’re hoping to bring some fun back to Haverhill.
“The kids both wanted their party here last year but times were tight and we made a point of trying to budget for it and get the party they wanted.
“Both of them had half of their class there, they had a great time.”
Gillian and husband Adrian, 41, say their huge win has not changed them despite moving into a #6million Downton Abbey-style mansion.
Adrian went back to work at his music shop in Haverhill but was forced to close the business after receiving hundreds of begging letters.
The couple – who are estimated to be worth £149 million due to interest and entered the Sunday Times rich list at number 516 last weekend – say they have kept their children in the same school and are still in touch with their friends.
Speaking of the lottery win, Gillian said: “You can’t say it doesn’t change you but we’ve tried not to let it change us.
“It highlights who your friends are, the people who are behind you through thick and thin.
“There are no financial worries anymore and we’ve moved to a slightly larger house, but my main aims are still there. My friends, my family, my children.
“It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank, you wouldn’t be anybody without friends and family behind you.”
Gillian revealed the couple are still receiving 50 begging letters a week from people hoping to share in their winnings and says she reads every one.
She said: “We do get a lot of letters but in this world you don’t ask, you don’t know.
“You can’t condemn anybody for asking. It takes a lot of guts just to ask somebody for money, to just to come out and say it.
“We still read every one of them and work out ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on their own merits.”
The mother-of-two says some people were camping outside Adrian’s music shop every day making his working life difficult to continue.
But she denied reports that Adrian closed the shop because he was receiving too many begging letters.
The Royal Mail now sieve out unwanted mail for the couple.
Gillian’s new project, which is a joint venture with friend Cindy Smith, 45, is set to open on May 4
A staff member from a local nurserysaid: “It will be good for the town if it opens again.
“This will be the third set of owners so hopefully it will be a success for them.”
A recruitment worker, from Haverhill, said: “The Bayfords bought out Cheeky Chimps and are setting up a creche and they are doing food as well.
“It is nice as Gillian used to work with children at Addenbrooke’s so it is obviously important to her.
“They are advertising for an assistant and a kitchen worker.
“They are managing the recruitment themselves. Applicants are applying directly to them.
“My friend had an interview and was offered a job with them, but she did not take it in the end as she felt it was not for her.”