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Everyone's a winner when Camelot's Northern Ireland winners' adviser Kathy comes calling

Exclusive insight into what it's like to scoop the windfall

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Kathy Garrett

Kathy Garrett

Photo: Dylan Nolte

Frances and Patrick Connolly from Moira in Northern Ireland celebrate becoming the fourth biggest National Lottery winners ever after scooping an incredible £114,969,775.70 EuroMillions jackpot

Frances and Patrick Connolly from Moira in Northern Ireland celebrate becoming the fourth biggest National Lottery winners ever after scooping an incredible £114,969,775.70 EuroMillions jackpot

Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

A group of lucky winners from Northern Ireland gathered to celebrate the 25th birthday of The National Lottery

A group of lucky winners from Northern Ireland gathered to celebrate the 25th birthday of The National Lottery

Kathy Garrett

As a National Lottery winners' adviser who has covered the Northern Ireland region for many years, Kathy Garrett never knows when the phone is going to ring with news of another big winner for her to visit.

That phone call could come this Friday night when, in a special Super Jackpot Event Draw, the EuroMillions jackpot will be bumped up to a guaranteed £110m - a figure close to the £114,969,775.70 that Moira couple Frances and Patrick Connolly won when they became Northern Ireland's biggest winners on New Year's Day, 2019.

Ahead of the big draw, Kathy talked to Sunday Life about the unique challenges that a life-changing win can sometimes present, and the support that she and her colleagues at The National Lottery would provide should someone from here strike it lucky next weekend.

"As a winners' adviser, my job is to look after and support our winners every step of the way from the moment they realise they've won to actually getting their prize money, and often long after that as well," said Kathy (below), who is originally from Belfast.

"Winners are often in shock for the first few days after the win - which is why our first piece of advice is always to take your time, do nothing in haste and maybe have a holiday, so you can allow the news to sink in."

Psychologists have identified a 'change curve' which charts the stages most people go through after major events in their lives, and winning the lottery is one of them, according to Kathy.

"Winners experience a whole host of emotions, right across the spectrum," said Kathy, "and for some, the 'change curve' will be steeper than others. It's not surprising, given the incredible amounts of money involved. For example, if someone from Northern Ireland was to win the special EuroMillions jackpot this Friday night - and the Connollys have shown that it could very well happen - their world would be turned upside down overnight. In an amazing way, of course!

"We're very aware of the emotional journey our winners go through and we offer an incredible amount of support to help them through this, and indeed every aspect of their win - which nowadays extends far beyond financial and legal advice that winners have always relied on."

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Frances and Patrick Connolly from Moira in Northern Ireland celebrate becoming the fourth biggest National Lottery winners ever after scooping an incredible £114,969,775.70 EuroMillions jackpot

Frances and Patrick Connolly from Moira in Northern Ireland celebrate becoming the fourth biggest National Lottery winners ever after scooping an incredible £114,969,775.70 EuroMillions jackpot

Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Frances and Patrick Connolly from Moira in Northern Ireland celebrate becoming the fourth biggest National Lottery winners ever after scooping an incredible £114,969,775.70 EuroMillions jackpot

Now the Camelot support team includes a qualified life coach with experience of helping people through change, finding new focus and creating a 'bucket list'. New winners can also avail of a new luxury concierge service.

Kathy revealed: "One piece of advice we give new winners is to treat yourself to something that makes this win seem real, like flying first class or a nice hotel. So, to help organise this, we have a new luxury concierge service.

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A group of lucky winners from Northern Ireland gathered to celebrate the 25th birthday of The National Lottery

A group of lucky winners from Northern Ireland gathered to celebrate the 25th birthday of The National Lottery

A group of lucky winners from Northern Ireland gathered to celebrate the 25th birthday of The National Lottery

"When the world returns to some kind of normality, if a winner wants to book 20 flights for their family or a hospitality box at Windsor Park or the Kingspan Stadium, our team will arrange everything. If you need to move house, they'll organise it."

Also on hand is a team of security experts to provide tips on everything from keeping your property secure to social media and cyber security.

"The winning experience is constantly evolving and we want everyone to feel supported throughout the process," said Kathy.

"Of course, family and friends also play an important role in keeping winners' feet on the ground as, despite the win, family life tends to go on as normal.

"I've greeted more than 2,000 winners since I started working with Camelot in 2010 and to see a father walk into a room and tell his son they've won The National Lottery is a privilege that not many people have.

"But my favourite moment is when a winner feels happy enough for their winners' adviser to step back - even though it really brings a lump to my throat.

"It's like a child leaving home," she said.

n The jackpot for this Friday night's EuroMillions Super Jackpot Event Draw is a guaranteed €130m, regardless of whether Tuesday night's jackpot is won or not. If nobody wins the jackpot on Friday night, it will roll over to the next draw.

Belfast Telegraph