Belfast Telegraph

Lotto winners full of charity as they toast £1.1m win

By Claire McNeilly and David Young

For Northern Ireland’s newest millionaire, charity really does begin at home. Maire McKibbin has the power to draw up an extravagant shopping list after scooping £1.1m on an impulse-bought National Lottery ticket.

But the 64-year-old grandmother-to-seven isn’t thinking of luxury mansions and fast cars to splash the cash. Instead she will be giving it away to two charities very close to her heart.

The Kilkeel woman had already bought her tickets for Saturday's Lotto draw when husband Jarlath urged her to take another punt at the lucky dip in their local filling station.

It was that spur-of-the-moment buy that landed her a cool £1,134,307 for their family's six-strong syndicate.

When the money is divided among the six syndicate members, the McKibbins intend to donate to two local charities — the Mourne Stimulus Centre for adults with learning difficulties and the Southern Area Hospice.

After that, they may just splash out a little bit.

“Jarlath and I might just treat ourselves to a cruise,” she said.

The couple yesterday went public on their amazing win at a celebratory event in Kilkeel which saw Mrs McKibbin pop a champagne cork.

“It's better to be born lucky than good looking,” laughed Mrs McKibbin as she sprayed champagne over her husband and son John.

Speaking at the event, she |described how events unfolded on Saturday evening — and the |moment she realised she had won.

“We were heading to the golf club on Saturday evening and |Jarlath says ‘go in and do |another five quick picks', and we went into Rafferty's garage and did them, and that was the ticket that clicked the six numbers,” she revealed.

The win is the second time in recent months that the caravan park owners have experienced good luck in the money stakes.

In June their daughter won almost £12,000 in a local lotto run by nearby Ballymartin Gaelic Football Club.

The keen 20-handicapper golfer added: “I've already had a hole-in-one and, with my luck, I'm looking forward to a second.”

The couple, both past captains of Kilkeel Golf Club, were staging a charity barbecue for the local lifeboat at their Leestone Caravan Park on Saturday when they found out the good news.

She said numerous relatives were called on to double and triple check the ticket’s numbers before the partying began in earnest.

But Mrs McKibbin insisted she left the serious partying to friends and family.

“I did taxi for the rest of the night while the others had a few jars,” she said.

While Mr McKibbin has treated himself to a new windscreen for his golf buggy, the couple insist they will not be making any extravagant purchases.

“It definitely won't change my life,” said Mrs McKibbin. “My feet are firmly on the ground.”

Background

Maire McKibbin’s name has now been added to Northern Ireland’s list of instant millionaires. The province has had more than its fair share of visits from Lady Luck since the Lottery began in 1994. Mrs McKibbin’s £1.1m looks small compared to £20.1m won by Belfast’s Iris Jeffrey in 2004. It was at the time the biggest Lottery jackpot won in the UK.

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