A group of friends who scooped £1million on the National Lottery told yesterday how they nearly missed out on the fortune because they FORGOT to check their ticket.
The winning numbers came up in the draw on June 28 but the pals only came forward last week after organisers Camelot made a public TV appeal for people to check their tickets.
Syndicate leader Lita Powney, 61, admitted she forgot to check the group’s tickets but said she recognised the winning numbers straight away when they appeared on television.
The mum-of-four added: “I don’t check my tickets that often and was watching the TV and saw Santa in his grotto, surrounded by winning numbers and thought to myself, ‘I’m sure they are ours’.”
Lita, who lives with her husband Desmond, 70, in Bridgnorth, Shrops., asked her son-in-law Tim to check the numbers and immediately called Camelot to claim the jackpot.
But she said no-one believed her at first and it took “some time” to convince the other six members of the syndicate about their new-found £1,045,504 fortune.
The seven-strong group – who all work at Hilton Brook House residential care home near Bridgnorth – have been playing the lottery since it started.
They are made up of Lita, Jenny Jones, Angela Orpe, Josie Bromley, Joyce Hopkins and Janice Head and a member who didn’t want to be named.
There were originally nine people in the syndicate but when two members left Lita took over the vacant spaces and paid three lots every week.
It meant she got three shares of the winnings – £351,501 – while the remaining six members pocketed £116,167 each.
Lita said she was going to spend the money on decorating her house, while others plan to go on holiday or buy new cars.
And syndicate member Jenny Jones said: “It feels wonderful, I’m so happy for the girls and myself. We are now jackpot winners, I can’t believe it.”
The winning ticket was bought from Worfield Village Post Office and Store in Worfield, Shrops., and the numbers were 8, 12, 28, 30, 43 and 49.
Five people matched all six numbers but only five claimed their share of the jackpot.
In their public appeal for the winners to come forward last week, Camelot warned the owners they only had until Christmas Day to claim the money.
They arranged for Santa and his elves to appear at the Winter Wonderland in Telford on August 5 because they knew the winning ticket was sold in Shropshire.
A National Lottery spokesperson said: “We’re delighted that our appeal has helped find the missing jackpot winner and we’d like to take the opportunity to thank Santa and his elves for their help.
“It is an important reminder to all players to check their tickets – you could be walking round a millionaire and not even know.”