Lyn Sexton and Ian Pearce were on a family caravan holiday when the one thing we all dream about happened.
The couple were one of the fortunate few whose numbers came up on the EuroMillions Raffle, but it took them a whole two days before they even realised.
It wasn’t until they returned from Aberporth back to their home in Merthyr before they discovered their lives had been changed forever.
The couple, who had been together for 16 years when they won, bought the ticket on a whim before going away for the weekend.
Read more: Wales’ lottery winners on life in lockdown after winning millions
“We got back home on Sunday afternoon from west Wales and I was on the computer and just let out a scream,” said Lyn, who was working as a physiotherapy technician at Cardiff’s Royal Infirmary at the time they won in 2012.
“Ian ran in and thought I was having a heart attack. He said ‘check the numbers, check the numbers’ and we realised we’d won.
“We thought ‘oh my god’, it just doesn’t happen to ordinary folk.
“The first thing we did was go to Tesco w we had bought the ticket.
“The staff just went ‘oh my gosh’. They could not believe we had the winning ticket and it was then we realised it was real and wasn’t an error on the computer or the ticket.
“We asked them in the store ‘what do we do?’ and they said ‘spend it’.”
After the initial shock, the couple carried on living and working in Merthyr as they decided what to do with their win. Their world had been turned upside down, but one thing they were always certain about was wanting to help others.
The lottery winners have been determined to help others:
Ian says: “After the initial shock of the win wore off we said ‘what do we do now?’. We decided to carry on with work because we didn’t want to let anyone down. Lyn carried on working at the hospital and made sure all his patients were OK before retiring.
“I worked for Welsh Government and decided to stay on for another five years as I was in the middle of a big project and didn’t want to leave anyone hanging in the balance. We both had obligations and we wanted to honour those.
“And we always wanted to be able to help others and have helped to raise thousands for various charities over the past decade.”
Lyn and Ian splashed out on a white Mercedes E350 for Lyn and a Range Rover Evoque for Ian after the win, but their biggest indulgence before the coronavirus pandemic was exotic holidays. And over the past decade they have helped out numerous charities as well as renovating a 400-year-old mill near New Quay, Ceredigion.
They launched a property development company called Lynian Homes, buying, renovating and renting out homes in Merthyr and Rhondda. Including their own five-bedroom home in Merthyr, they had a portfolio of five properties.
Since coronavirus, they have sold the majority of their homes to concentrate on the renovation of their home in New Quay.
“It has been exhausting, but we are just putting the finishing touches to the house on the land before we concentrate on renovating the old mill,” explains Ian. “Before our win we actually had a house that we rented out and we bought more after our win but our portfolio has dwindled during the pandemic because it was impossible to visit the properties during lockdown.”
Ian said that leaving Merthyr Tydfil to live full time in Ceredigion in 2019 was not an “easy decision”, but they have thrown themselves into the local community and are involved in a local group that is helping businesses in the area by organising events like the Christmas lights and firework displays.
“We love it ,’ Ian said.
“It is beautiful and the people are really friendly. We have always loved coming to west Wales and we were spending most of our time anyway, so it made sense to move, but it has been difficult because of coronavirus because we haven’t been able to see family and friends as much as we would have liked.”
As well as being busy on their home, the couple have always been keen to support local charities.
The latest project was joining a group of Welsh and South West National Lottery winners to help out City Hospice in Cardiff with their Forever Flowers campaign.
They first heard about City Hospice ahead of Christmas 2020 when a number of winners produced festive hampers for the hospice staff to thank them for their incredible hard work and sacrifice during the first nine months of the pandemic.
When they heard about the hospice’s Forever Flowers campaign, giving people the chance to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones, they were keen to get involved and signed up to help in Cardiff Castle w over 1,400 flowers are displayed.
The flowers have been purchased in memory of loved ones, guiding guests to the right location, explaining the Forever Flowers campaign to members of the public and selling City Hospice merchandise to help with further fundraising.
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The winners, who in ‘normal’ times would regularly get together to volunteer for charities that have benefited from National Lottery funding, couldn’t all help out en masse because of Covid-19 precautions and staggered their contributions over a number of days to ensure that everyone stayed safe.
Lyn and Ian travelled to from Ceredigion to Cardiff to help with the launch, and say it is close to their hearts after losing a friend at the start of the pandemic.
Lyn said: “We jumped at the chance to get involved with this important campaign, no one has been immune to the difficulties of the past year and a half. Forever Flowers was a great way of bringing people together. One of the flowers is even dedicated to our friend, which makes it even more poignant.
“In the nine years since we won The National Lottery we have volunteered for all sorts of good causes and after Covid-19 stopped us all getting together for so long, it was really special to give our time to a good cause again. We might not have all been able to be in Cardiff Castle at the same time, but to unite behind such a fantastic campaign has been really special.”
Liz Andrews, CEO at City Hospice, said: “We were overwhelmed by the kindness of The National Lottery winners at the end of a very difficult year last year and when they said they wanted to work with us again we were thrilled.”
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Source: Wales Online