While most lottery players would jump at the chance to hand in their resignation after winning £2.7 million on the UK Lottery, essential worker, Elaine Thompson refuses to give up her beloved job stacking supermarket shelves, almost 25 years after her win. Not because she’s spent the money but because she loves what she does.
Stack of Cash
Elaine and her husband, Derek, won £2.75 million 25 years ago and recently made headlines again due to the fact that she’s still adamant about not only setting a good example but to be a good essential worker during the coronavirus lockdown.
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As Elaine is vulnerable due to her asthma, she continued to carry on her job as an essential worker throughout the coronavirus lockdown but to ensure that she did not mix with customers due to her health, she swapped her shift to 2 am.
Speaking the press in celebration of her win 25 years ago, Elaine said, "I did the 2 am starts every day so I'm in from 2 am to 9 am.
"The company was fantastic. They let me go at 8.30 am because I'm asthmatic and I'm vulnerable so I was not with any of the customers.
"I was leaving the house at 1.15 am every morning, I get up at midnight.
"A couple of times during lockdown it was really really hard.
"I was driving to work thinking 'What am I doing?'
"But I kept working all the way through.
"I could not have done furlough. I'm coming up to 65 next week but I'm not ready to retire yet."
A Good Role Model
When Elaine and husband Derek discovered they had become millionaires in December 1995, the couple were celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary at the time. Before the children went to bed, Elaine checked the numbers. She checked once, then twice. 'I knew we'd won something. I screamed. I thought we'd won £10 — then I screamed again.'
Elaine decided she would carry on working regardless of her bank balance, so she could be a role model for her children.
"I had two young children at the time when I made the decision.
"It's important that children see you working hard, and that we don't get anything out of life unless you work hard for it."
Now a grandmother-of-two, Elaine said, “People probably do think I'm bonkers but before I got this job I was going nuts. I was washing the windows twice a day.”
“If Derek set down a shirt, I'd have it whipped away and in the wash.
Eventually, he said, 'Elaine, love, you've got to do something to get out of the house.” Elaine did just that and has never been happier.
"People ask me why I have not got a cleaner. If she came to clean, I would have cleaned the house before she got here.
"For me, I was brought up to be a hard worker, I love to work.
"I have got the best job in the world," she said.
Elaine added: "I absolutely love my job and just because I won the lottery, this didn’t make me want to give up work. I think it is all about balance.
"I have continued to work but work hours which are more suited to me and with the remainder of the time I have been able to help out at and support charities which are close to me."
What Elaine did with her £2.75 million
At the time of her win, Elaine and her husband Derek set aside enough of the prize money to make sure that their children could go to university. It was Christmas soon after their win, so the newly minted millionaires bought a selection box for every single child at their school. Every adult who worked there, teacher, janitor got a present.
Another lucky recipient was her brother Ian, who was staying in a hotel in Canada and going through a messy divorce. Elaine called him and told him that he needed to get on a plane because he had a cheque for a million pounds waiting for him.
Elaine said that when the siblings were much younger, their father walked out on the family, leaving them in a precarious financial position. Elaine recalls that she and her mother survived, she says, because of Ian, who joined the RAF and sent home all his wages.
“He stepped in to do all the things our father should have done. When he got leave, he came home and looked after me and taught me to be a sensible adult. He was the first person to buy me perfume. One of the best things about our win is we were able to share it with him.”
One of the first things the lucky couple splashed out on was a new Ford Fiesta and later they bought three racehorses.
A quarter-century and a few trips to Vegas on, how much is left? “Not the sums we had, but still enough. And obviously we have property and a family to be proud of,” said Elaine.
The couple will celebrate 25 years since their lottery win this year, on the same date they celebrate their wedding anniversary.
In a nationwide survey of 2,000 British workers, it was revealed that 38 per cent of those polled, would pursue their dream career regardless of a lottery win. They said they would still take the opportunity to learn a new trade, while 24 per cent say they would focus on charity work. The remainder 20 per cent said that they would study for their pilot’s licence.
Camelot’s senior winners’ advisor, Andy Carter said, “2020 seems to have left many of us wanting more from our jobs, thinking about what our next career move might be or jacking it all in to do something that we really love.
“Our passion for gardening and cooking in lockdown and months of home-schooling has clearly inspired the nation to consider a career overhaul and realise the importance of job satisfaction.
“And the importance of our careers doesn’t appear to change even after a lottery win, with only a few looking to quit their jobs if they win. Over half of National Lottery winners still work in some capacity and just under a quarter of them have started their own business after their win, turning their hand to floristry, hairdressing – we even have one that has invented their own spicy sauce!”
This article forms part of our UK Lottery Resource Centre.