Two best friends from Sunderland are celebrating today after scooping the £15,342,900 jackpot in last Saturday’s Lotto draw.
Paula Barraclough, 45, and Lorraine Smith, 54, known to each other as Polly and Lolly – say they can now live the life they always dreamed of, with first-class flights to Las Vegas topping their shopping list.
And one of the first things Lorraine intends to buy is a new frying pan.
The pair, who both work as cooks and who have been friends for more than 17 years, said the news of their win is still sinking in - and despite both of them banking £7,671,450 each, after matching all six numbers, neither of them has any intentions of giving up work.
Lorraine, who returned to work as a cook at Dairy Lane Care Centre, in Houghton le Spring, just hours after discovering she was a multi-millionaire, said: “The news really is still sinking in.
"I thought I was hallucinating – I just thought this cannot really be happening.
“It was only when I got on the phone to Camelot I realised my best friend and I really were multi-millionaires!”
Lorraine described the moment she went out to buy what turned out to be the winning Lucky Dip ticket at a city centre newsagent.
She added: “I always stay at my mum’s house on a Friday night.
"I was full of cold when I woke up on Saturday morning and went out to the bus stop at 6.30am for my journey to work.
“The bus didn’t turn up and I really needed to get warm.
“I discovered I had a £2 coin and some loose change in my pocket so I popped into the local shop and bought a Lucky Dip Lotto ticket.
"Never did I believe the fate of the bus being late would result in my life being changed forever.”
She added: “I literally threw my old frying pan away the day before I became a multi-millionaire so a new frying pan will definitely be one of the first things I will be buying.
"I certainly won’t be giving up work – I have people who rely on me and who I need to cook for.
"This is the reason I went straight into work after discovering I had won – there is absolutely no way I would ever let these people down.”
Lorraine, who has a son, Lewis, 23, lost her husband Terry, a mechanic, six years ago.
Top of her shopping list, after the frying pan, are new windows for her house and a car for Lewis.
Paula, who works as a cook at coffee shop Coffea Caban, in Sunderland, and lives at home with her parents, described the moment Lorraine called her to tell her they had won the jackpot.
She said: “I was in bed on Sunday morning and the phone rang at 7.15am. Lorraine never calls me that early.
"I picked up the phone and said to her: ‘You better be calling me to tell me we have won the lottery waking me up at this time!’
“And the voice on the other end of the phone replied: ‘We have! We have all six numbers!’ I just fell silent – I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.
“This win is life-changing, it means I will finally be able to move into a house of my own, rather than living with my parents and I can start to write my dream shopping list.”
The friends, who have been putting on the lottery for the last six years, said there was no doubt that they would share the money.
Paula said: “We have been such good friends over the years. “We have always been there for each other and we have always been kind to each other. “I never doubted for one second that she wouldn’t share the money.
“We are planning to go on holiday to Vegas together, I have been before and would love Lolly to experience it.
“My sister and brother-in-law are going out in May, so we are going out to join them for a week.
“But we just want to stay down to earth and stay what we are like now.”
The winning ticket was bought from McColl Newsagents in Park Lane, Sunderland, and the winning numbers were 11, 13, 21, 37, 49 and 59.
A McColl’s spokesperson said: “We’re glad to hear about Paula and Lorraine’s win and hope the lucky streak continues for our Sunderland customers.”