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Lottery winners with surprisingly normal lives – EuroMillions pair's modest Volvo, dinner lady and M&S shelf-stacker | The Sun

WHAT would you do if you won the lottery? For some humble folk, it just means continuing on with life as it was.

While some winners quit their day-to-day to party in lavish mansions and race supercars, others opt to stay in their jobs as dinner ladies, supermarket shelf-stackers and plumbers.

From driving second-hand Volvos to staying put in the family's council house, we look at the lucky winners who chose a more modest existence.

Council house and dinner lady job

Trish Emson still lives in her family’s old council house and has kept her job as a dinner lady, despite raking in £1.8million from the lottery in 2003.

The down-to-earth mum, who is in her fifties, said she would be “bored to tears” without her beloved job serving up meals to primary school children.

She has also kept up her frugal habits, driving a Kia and shopping in Primark.

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Speaking to The Mirror last year, Trish said she “doesn’t like showing off and bragging about money” and “can’t be posh anyway”.

She added: “To look at me you wouldn’t think I was a millionaire, but if I have to dress up I feel fake, I prefer my jeans.”

Instead, Trish and her partner Graham Norton, who works as a decorator, bought two caravans and sun themselves on holidays in Benalmádena, Benidorm and Ibiza.

Trish, who got pregnant just weeks after her win after five years of trying, said that was a “better feeling” than winning the cash prize.

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Night shifts at M&S

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Elaine Thompson is still stacking shelves in M&S despite winning the lottery 27 years agoCredit: NCJ MEDIA

Elaine Thompson scooped an incredible £2.7million in 1995, but still works night shifts at Marks & Spencer stacking shelves.

The Killingworth key worker even kept working through the pandemic, despite being asthmatic and vulnerable.

She said in 2020: “I did the 2am starts every day so I’m in from 2am to 9am.

“The company was fantastic. They let me go at 8.30am because I’m asthmatic and I’m vulnerable so I was not with any of the customers.

“I was leaving the house at 1.15am every morning, I get up at midnight.

“A couple of times during lockdown it was really hard. I was driving to work thinking ‘What am I doing?’

“I could not have done furlough. I’m coming up to 65 next week but I'm not ready to retire yet.”

She explained that she kept working to be a good role model for her kids, who were five and 10 at the time of her win.

She said: “It’s important that children see you working hard.

“I absolutely love my job and just because I won the lottery, this didn’t make me want to give up work. It’s all about balance.”

She hoped to inspire her children to be the first in the family to go to university, which they later achieved.

Second-hand Volvos

Builder Steve Thomson, 43, still drives his wife Lenka’s second-hand Volvo after scooping a £105million jackpot in the EuroMillions.

After their unbelievable win in 2019, Steve bought a second-hand van for himself, while Lenka bought a Volvo XC90.

However, the couple did splash out on a huge 14.5-acre estate which boasts a swimming pool, tennis court and party barn.

Steve told The Sun in May how he still does his own DIY though and will be renovating the house himself.

Just like the Thomsons, Joe and Jess Thwaite are driving a second-hand Volvo, despite winning big on the Euromillions in May this year.


The couple, who are 49 and 44, became the UK’s biggest lottery winners after bagging £184million, but spent just £38,000 of their winnings on an understated grey Volvo V60.

Neighbours told The Sun in June they were not surprised at their “sensible” and “respectable” purchase.

One said: “They’re mega lottery winners but first and foremost they’re down-to-earth people who have worked hard their whole lives.

“You might expect them to go and buy a Ferrari or a Bugatti. Instead of living the high life, they’re pressing ahead with their original plan to do the house up and make sure things are sorted as they’d originally planned.”

Mucking out on pig farm

Susan Herdman has shunned a life of luxury to work on a pig farm, waking up at 6.30am to get and get her hands dirty mucking out the sty.

The hairdresser from Hertfordshire had been struggling to pay the bills and couldn’t always keep the heating on when she won £1.2million in 2010.

Describing how she felt at the win, she told The Mirror in 2020: “There was no hysterics, no running round the room screaming. It was just a big, ‘Thank God. Thank you.’ 

“Just absolute relief that if I was careful, I’d be OK financially for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t have to just constantly battle against the clock, squeezing in appointments.”

Susan, who was a single mum at the time, stayed in her job as a hairdresser for six months before starting to date pig farmer Andrew, who lived 220 miles away in North Yorkshire.

She and her son Jake relocated to Andrew’s farm in March 2011 and she now spends her days helping out with the pigs.

She said: “It’s a hard life, but it’s a good life. Once you’ve been a worker, I don’t think you’re ever not going to work. You need a purpose to get up. I have to think of my son’s future as well.”

The few things she did splurge on include a large motorhome and she has treated her parents and sisters to holidays and cars.

Dedicated plumber

A £14million win could not stop hard-working John Doherty from fixing up people’s plumbing.

The tradesman from Elderslie, Scotland ran his own business, JDPS Plumbers, when he and wife Alison, who bought the winning ticket, bagged the eye-watering amount in 2016.

Last year he said: “I’ll probably slow down a bit but I still want to keep doing it.

“That’s because it’s mine ‒ if I was working for someone else I’d be away.”

Cook at Watford fire station

Julie Jeffrey kept working as a cook in a fire station in Watford after raking in £1million in a lottery jackpot in 2002.

She and her partner Chris made the decision to pay off their mortgage and make a trust fund for their two kids, but otherwise continued to live their normal life.

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Julie told the Watford Observer in 2019: “It is true that life has become more comfortable, but we still live a basic life and I’m doing the same job.

“We can use the money to help pay for bills or to enjoy ourselves, but if we gave up work, we would have to watch ourselves and what we spend.”

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