Lottery winner Margaret Loughrey has been hailed as a hero after buying a derelict mill and saving it from being turned into a bio-waste plant.
Local residents have thanked £27m lottery winner Margaret who is now planning to turn the Herdman’s Mill site at Sion Mills into a tourist attraction with sports facilities.
And Strabane woman Margaret, 49, — who was unemployed when she won the EuroMillions jackpot last December, is now the sole director of three companies set up in May.
Margaret is believed to have bought the 62-acre Mill site for around £1m, but it will cost millions more to turn the site into a tourist attraction.
Sion Mills residents had been fighting plans by the previous owner, Connective Energy Holdings Ltd, to build an energy park, including an anaerobic digestion system and electricity turbines.
Margaret’s new company, Rey Mill Ltd, is planning to refurbish the crumbling industrial site and turning it into a tourist attraction with bowling alley, go-karting track, sports facilities and a restaurant.
Andy Patton, head of the Sion Mills Community Group Against Waste Management Plant, welcomed Margaret’s purchase of the site.
“This means success for us. If it means there will not now be an anaerobic digester in Sion Mills then it is a triumph.
“We want jobs for Sion Mills but they have to come from a source other than the poisons and toxins an anaerobic digester would have brought.”
He added: “Our campaign had the backing of local councillors, MLAs and our MP. It has brought people together from right across the political spectrum representing the concerns of all, and that is something you don’t get very often in Northern |Ireland.”
West Tyrone SDLP MLA, Joe Byrne, said: “It is very exciting to learn of the new owner’s plans for Herdsman’s as a mixed-use development project, attracting tourism, further investment and job opportunities.”
The flax mill was founded on the banks of the River Mourne by the Herdman family in 1835. The 62-acre site includes a complex of buildings, the largest of which is the massive five-storey main building constructed by architect William Lynn of Lanyon Lynn and Lanyon in 1853.
This building was severely damaged by a fire in August 2011.
Loughrey's Euromillions win has catapulted her from being unemployed to the directorships of three new companies, all thought to be involved in her plans for Herdman's Mill.
Strabane based estate agent Ronan McAnenny, who helped broker the Herdman’s deal, said that the sale was great news for the whole area.
“Margaret has big plans for this place, people will be delighted that the mill is in local ownership and while plans are at a very early stage, this facility should help regenerate Sion Mills and the wider area around it,” he said.