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'Spend, spend, spend' winner dies

Published 12/04/2015

Viv Nicholson and her husband took just three years to spend their prize money - equivalent to £3.5 million today
Viv Nicholson and her husband took just three years to spend their prize money - equivalent to £3.5 million today
Viv Nicholson, right, pictured with Barbara Dickson who played her in musical Spend Spend Spend

Legendary football pools winner Viv Nicholson, who shot to fame when she said she would "spend, spend, spend" her £152,000 winnings in 1961, has died aged 79.

Mrs Nicholson and her husband Keith, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, took just three years to spend their prize money - equivalent to £3.5 million today.

Her son Howard said she had died following a long fight against dementia after developing the condition in 2009.

In a statement posted on her website, he said: "We are saddened to announce the death of our much loved mum, Viv Nicholson.

"After suffering with dementia for five years, she died on April 11 at Pinderfields Hospital with her sons at her side.

"Viv was a one-off in all ways - a loving and loved mother, a glamorous great grandmother and a friend to many.

A West End musical celebrating Mrs Nicholson's life - named after her trademark catchphrase - premiered in 1999.

Mrs Nicholson was a 25-year-old blonde liquorice factory worker when she and her miner husband won their fortune.

They splashed the cash on cars, jewellery, furs, champagne, parties and a sprawling ranch-style home.

But their fairytale story came to an end when Mr Nicholson was killed in a car crash in 1965 and a huge tax bill left Mrs Nicholson bankrupt.

After that her life spiralled out of control as she struggled with alcohol and depression.

In the years that followed she moved to Malta but was deported for fighting a policeman.

She got a job singing Hey Big Spender at a Manchester strip club - only to be fired for refusing to bare all.

And she had three more marriages, with one husband dying in another car smash, and another from an overdose.

Her son today requested donations to Dementia UK in her memory.

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