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Northern Ireland lottery winner Frances Connolly doing sponsored slim in aid of young carers


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Generous: Frances Connolly

Generous: Frances Connolly

NIGEL RODDIS

Generous: Frances Connolly

She is used to giving away pounds for charity, but now Lottery winner Frances Connolly is shedding them as well.

The Northern Ireland woman, who won £115m, has begun a sponsored slim to raise funds for young care workers.

Frances, who lives in Hartlepool, said she hoped to raise £50,000 for a respite caravan for two local charities.

The 54-year-old from Glebe in Co Tyrone is aiming to lose 25lbs over the next 12 weeks and has already generated £11,000 in sponsorship.

"I've put myself on a no junk diet," said Frances, who won the money with husband Patrick.

"I've cut out the in-between snacking, while I'm also swimming every morning.

"Like a lot of people, I've put on weight during the lockdown, and I have mobility issues.

"It's something I have to do for health reasons, so it's an extra incentive that charity can benefit."

Frances told the Northern Echo that she is being supported by eight friends and fellow slimmers, who will join her in a weekly virtual Pilates class, while all are trying to climb the stairs at home an extra 10 times a day.

It was just over two years ago on New Year's Day 2019 when Frances and her businessman husband scooped a £114.9m fortune - and immediately began giving it away to family and friends.

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Frances celebrating their £115m Lottery win with husband Patrick in 2019

Frances celebrating their £115m Lottery win with husband Patrick in 2019

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Frances celebrating their £115m Lottery win with husband Patrick in 2019

The couple also launched two charities - the PFC Trust to help people in and around Hartlepool, where they set up home as a young married couple, and the Kathleen Graham Trust in memory of Frances' mother, who died at Christmas 2017.

Frances recently revealed that they had handed over half of their fortune to others in the biggest ever Lottery giveaway, helping "thousands" of people.

She also admitted that she had "lost count of the number of times I've cried my eyes out" following a recipient's response to her generosity.

The mother of three daughters - Katrina (32), and twins Natalie and Fiona (25) - who suffers from a medical condition that has her destined for a wheelchair, is all too aware that fabulous wealth cannot buy you everything.

"My auntie told me I had Perthes' disease as a kid," she told the Belfast Telegraph recently. "When I was a baby I had a big metal frame around my hips; my dad used to be able to pick me up with the back of the frame.

"I just managed. I've always done plenty of sport but about 15 years ago my cruciate ligament went and all of a sudden the joints went, so my mobility is really poor."

She added: "I actually spent about three years in Northern Ireland sitting on a chair because I couldn't really go anywhere or do anything.

"I had an operation the year before we won the Lottery and it has got me back on my feet again for a bit, but I will eventually not be able to walk, so I'm preparing for that."

For now, as with all her other philanthropic pursuits, these will be pounds Frances definitely does not want back.

Belfast Telegraph


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