A retired schoolteacher carried a winning £32.5m lottery ticket around in his pocket for a week after finding out he and his wife had hit the jackpot.
Gerry Cannings, 63, and his wife Lisa, 48, knew they’d picked the winning numbers the morning after the draw but didn’t celebrate until days later as their house was being decorated.
The couple from Peterborough, Cambs., wanted to wait until they had unpacked the boxes at home before deciding what to do with the £32,534,188 – the second biggest prize in Lotto’s history.
Lisa, who is also a teacher, said: “I know it sounds mad but we had a guy in to paint the whole house.
“We’d been planning it for ages and had packed everything into boxes.
“We just thought it would be easier to wait, although it did mean that Gerry had to carry round the winning ticket in his wallet all week.
“It was very nerve-wracking!”
The couple, who have three children and five grandchildren between them, bought the ticket for the draw on February 13 while visiting Gerry’s parents Victor and Joan Cannings at their home in Datchet, Berks.
Gerry had nipped out to buy fish and chips for his family from the Drunken Fish Shop when he spotted a National Lottery poster announcing the big rollover Lotto jackpot.
Feeling lucky, the keen golfer splashed out on five lines, and was amazed to find the next morning that they’d won the jackpot with the numbers 15, 16, 23, 39, 48 and 59.
Gerry said: “Dad does Lotto as well, plays the same numbers all the time and had a ticket that night too.
“So at about 10pm, Dad suggested we check the winning numbers. But we couldn’t find them on teletext so went to bed.
“Sunday morning came and I decided to check the internet. I started looking down the lines I had and then saw that the first line was the same as the one on the screen.
“Next I saw there was only one winner and then it hit me ‘Bloody hell we’ve got the whole lot!’
But he claimed his family didn’t immediately believe his luck – only realising he was right when their 11-year-old son read out the numbers from the TV.
“I double checked it, reading it forwards and backwards,” said Gerry.
” It just didn’t seem real but it looked right. I went and found Dad but it was obvious he didn’t believe me.
“I then went back upstairs to tell Lisa and said ‘What would you say if we won the jackpot?’ She can tell if I’m lying by looking into my eyes so she knew immediately I was being serious.
“It was only when our 11 year old son read out the winning numbers on TV and they matched did Dad finally believe me.
“Our son asked what it meant, I just said ‘Daddy’s won an awful lot of money!’.”
The couple, who have been together for 13 years, immediately called Camelot to have the win confirmed.
Gerry said he has always dreamt how he would spend a lottery win, not actually believing that it would come true, but he and Lisa now hope to help their children and grandchildren financially.
The couple are on the lookout for a larger home big enough to sleep all the family at Christmas.
Gerry, a keen golfer, is also after a car wide enough to take his golf clubs and the couple, who are huge Lord of The Rings fans, plan to visit New Zealand to see where it was filmed.
Gerry added: “We can go where we want – and travel First Class too.
“After looking after the family, what this money brings is a chance to enjoy new experiences and see places we thought we wouldn’t get to see.”
The couple’s win places them second in the Lotto rich list, just behind last month’s biggest ever Lotto winners, David & Carol Martin, and one other anonymous ticket holder, who both scooped a £33,035,323 jackpot prize each in the draw on 9 January.
Gerry and Lisa are among the 88 ticket-holders who have scooped £1 million or more since October.
This includes jackpot winners and the guaranteed millionaires made by Lotto Millionaire Raffle in each and every draw.
Gerry and Lisa Cannings were beaming yesterday (23/02) as they were revealed to be Britain’s second biggest Lotto jackpot winners.
Gerry, who wore brown cord trousers, a Nike striped t-shirt and brown shoes as the announcement was made, said: “We are not the rushing sort.”
Lisa, who admitted calling in sick until today, said she now plans to take early retirement from her job at Hampton College, Peterborough, where she teaches Spanish.
She said: “I was feeling pretty sick so it didn’t feel like a lie at all.
“It would be brilliant not having to come home and mark books.”
The couple decided to go public with their win after claiming they wouldn’t be able to deal with the “pressure” of keeping it quiet.
Gerry said: “The pressure was keeping it secret for a week but we have told one or two friends now.
“Now you know, it is news for a week.”
Lisa, who wore a white flowery top and dark red trousers as she and her husband were unveiled to the public, added: “It would just be impossible to explain if we bought a bigger house. Everybody abound us would know we haven’t got the money for that.
“This way I get to have my own make up done and look like a film star.”
The couple, who live in Peterborough, Cambs., said they like where they live and get on with their neighbours, but would like to live somewhere that all their grandchildren can come to stay at Christmas.
They currently live in a detached 1970s brick-built house which is worth around £220,000.
They said they like where they live and get on well with their neighbours but would like to live somewhere with enough bedrooms for all their grandchildren to come and stay at Christmas.
Neighbour Rebecca Card, 31, got a text from Lisa just minutes before the press conference in which the couple announced their news to the world.
The message read: “Won the lottery jackpot! We are at Orton Hall at a press conference! Catch us on the news! Speak to you soon! OMG!
Rebecca, 31, said: “She text me this morning saying she’d won and I couldn’t believe it.
“I’m so happy for them. They’re such nice people. Jerry is such a funny clever man.
“If you’re ever feeling down he can cheer you up.
“We’ve know them for the past 30 years and they’re such lovely people.
“If you ever need anything they’re always there to help.
“I’m just hoping they don’t move because it’s a lovely street but you can’t expect them to stay here now they’ve won all that money.”
Neighbours confirmed the couple have one son Sam, 11.
Gerry has two sons from his previous marriage to Jennifer, Tom, 35, and Andrew, 32.
Rebecca’s mother Sue card, 64, a school cleaner, said: “They’re lovely people.
“It couldn’t happen to a nice couple.’
Jerry, who taught history before retiring, is a keen golfer and Lisa is a member of a local scout or guide group.
They got together following the breakdown of his marriage to ex-wife Jennifer around 17 years ago.
Jennifer is understood to have worked for the land registry but moved further south when they divorced.