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Saturday, Aug 13, 2022

Lottery winner who gave away half of £115m fortune 'addicted' to helping

Lottery winner who gave away half of £115m fortune 'addicted' to helping

A lottery winner who scooped a £115m fortune and has given away more than half her winnings said she is "addicted" to helping others.

Frances Connolly, 55, agreed a yearly charity budget with her husband, Patrick, but had already spent up to 2032's allocation, she said.

The Hartlepool couple won the EuroMillions in 2019 and immediately gave away cash to friends and family.

Mrs Connolly said helping others "gives you a buzz and it's addictive".

"I'm addicted to it now," she said.

The former social worker and teacher has set up two charitable foundations: one named after her late mother Kathleen Graham in her native Northern Ireland, and the PFC Trust which supports local young carers, the elderly and refugees in her home town.

She estimates she has given away £60m but does not keep a tally, joking she would be worried in case her 57-year-old husband saw it.

When the couple won the jackpot in 2019 they gave away large amounts of cash to friends and family

Mrs Connolly has a history of charitable acts, she volunteered with St John Ambulance as a child and set up an Aids helpline while a student in Belfast.

She now backs local community groups which help people get jobs, support refugees and young carers, and provide electronic tablets for old people so they can connect with their families.

Mr Connolly still runs his plastic businesses.

Their biggest personal expenditure was a six-bedroom house in County Durham with seven acres of land, while Mr Connolly drives a second-hand Aston Martin.

But Mrs Connolly baulks at the idea of spending money on luxuries like yachts, saying reports of someone spending £25,000 on a bottle of champagne made her think the money could have helped a young person buy a house.

Frances and Patrick Connolly moved from Moira, County Down, to Hartlepool 30 years ago

Asked by PA News why she was happy to give so much away, she said: "Why wouldn't you? I've done that all my life.

"I'd have been a millionaire anyway if I took back all the money I've given away over the years."

Mrs Connolly said winning a huge amount of money might change a person's life but it does not alter their personality.

"If you're stupid before you get it, you're going to be stupid afterwards," she said.

"If I had any advice for a winner... I'd say money liberates you to be the person that you want to be."
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