Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Strabane's £27m Euromillions winner Margaret Loughrey giving away millions to help needy and town

'I know what it's like to have nothing. That's why I'm giving it away'

Margaret Loughrey wants to regenerate StrabaneMargaret Loughrey wants to regenerate Strabane
Margaret Loughrey wants to regenerate Strabane
Strabane

A Northern Ireland woman who won £27 million on the Euromillions lottery is giving away a whopping £26m.

Big-hearted Strabane woman Margaret Loughrey plans to keep just £1m of her massive fortune. Since the windfall she's been handing out money to help people in need and has already parted with £13.5m.

Margaret, who was unemployed when she scooped the big prize, says she wants to use the other £12.5m to give her beloved home town a facelift.

In an interview with Sunday Life, she said: "As soon as I won the money I said it would go for the good of the town.

"I've already given half of it away. I always said one for me, and the rest for the town."

Margaret (48), who bought the lucky dip ticket on the way home from the Job Centre, has already splashed out around £1m to buy the historic Herdman's Mill in Sion Mills. She plans to transform it into a leisure and tourism destination.

However her plans to buy Strabane's vacant 22-acre business park site were turned down by Invest NI on the grounds that they didn't meet with criteria.

Margaret had been hoping to build a craft village but Invest NI said a business plan which focused on export growth was needed. But she won't let that deter her from turning Strabane into a focal point for tourism.

"You've got the American Folk park in Omagh, the walls of Derry, Donegal," she said. "There is so much in that area and Strabane could be the focal point for that.

"There is so much talent in the Strabane area, people just need to be given a chance. Everyone has the right to work for a living, to support their families, to buy their own home, to run their own business – these are things everyone should have a right to do."

Up until a few months ago, Margaret was unemployed and living on benefits of £58 a week.

She said her previous circumstances had influenced her decision to help other people.

"I know what it's like to have nothing," she said. "That's why I'm giving it away – I can't miss what I never had."

Lottery winner Margaret Loughrey buys derelict Herdman’s Mill to block bio-waste plant plan 

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