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Magnificent Seven Celebrate £45.5 Million Win (Euro Millions)

A group of office workers were celebrating today after winning a share of the UK’s biggest-ever lottery prize. The seven-strong syndicate, all based in Merseyside, scooped £45,570,835.50 on Friday’s Euromillions draw, which had a whopping total jackpot of £90 million.

The winners, who all work through Manpower for Hewlett Packard, carrying out internal IT work at BT, only formed their syndicate – called The Magnificent Seven – four months ago.

The syndicate includes John Walsh (57), James Bennett (28), Sean Connor (32), Alex Parry (19), Emma Cartwright (23), Ceri Scullion (35) and Donna Rhodes (39) who have each banked £6.5million.

The Lucky Syndicate!
The HP Syndicate Members
(Photo: Reuters)

Syndicate leader John Walsh said: “I couldn’t sleep on Sunday morning so ended up checking the numbers on Teletext at 3am.

“I couldn’t believe it when all our numbers came up. I had to wake up my wife and son and daughter so they could double check I wasn’t dreaming.

“I had left the ticket in my drawer at work, so I went in on Sunday morning to make sure it was still there and then called the rest of the syndicate to tell them the good news.

“I didn’t quite get the response I expected because with the economy in the state it is in, everyone has been worried about jobs, so they all thought I was calling to tell them they had been made redundant. Thankfully I got to tell them some good news instead!”

The news was perfect timing for John as his wife Margaret was made redundant from her job with Woolworths in January this year. He added: “It wasn’t a great start to the year but it’s certainly looking up for 2010. We are now looking forward to a fabulous Christmas, hopefully starting with a family trip to New York, which is one of our favourite places, for a spot of Christmas shopping.”

Alex Parry, who at 19 is the youngest winner in the syndicate, only left sixth form at Wallasey School, in Wirral, just over a year ago. She said: “My sister Natasha works in the same office as me but is not part of the syndicate. She was happy for me but I think she was secretly a bit gutted when she found out the news. “I have a big family with a mum, a step dad, two sisters, a brother, a step brother and step sister so I will be making sure they all have a nice Christmas. “I’ve been saving up for the past year to buy myself a car so I think the first thing I will do is treat myself to a blue Vauxhall Corsa, in support of my favourite football team – Everton FC.”

James Bennett, 28, is married to Vicky, who is a full-time mother, and has two sons, aged six months and six. He said: “I honestly can’t remember how I felt when I heard the news that we’d won. It is a complete blank. “I have never owned a house and always rented so our first priority is to buy our own place. We’ve already been searching on the internet and it is the most amazing feeling to be able to click the button which says “no maximum price”. It is hard to believe that these dream homes we are looking at are now in our price range. “The best thing is knowing I can now support my children for the rest of their lives, there is simply no better feeling than that.”

Sean Connor, 32, who is single and has no children, said: “When I saw John was calling me on a Sunday I really feared the worst and thought it must be to tell me we’d been made redundant.
“Instead he told me we’d won the lottery. I couldn’t believe it. It’s always been my dream to travel to South America so I’m planning a trip there as soon as possible. I’m also hoping to get a box at Goodison Park so I can watch the mighty Blues in style.”

Emma Cartwright, 23, added: “I haven’t slept or eaten since I found out the news. “My Dad, Barry, was made redundant from his job with General Motors earlier this year so this couldn’t have come at a better time for us. I’ll be helping out my family and also paying off my mortgage. It’s just the best early Christmas present I could have hoped for.”

Ceri Scullion, 35, is married to Nathan, 41, and has two teenage sons. She said: “My mother passed away earlier this year and she loved to do the lottery so I am convinced she had something to do with me winning. “It’s very sad that I can’t share this with her but I know she would have been so happy for me and the family. I know that my Dad is very proud and I will make sure that Nathan’s family want for nothing. “I was actually in the beauticians having a manicure when John called me with the news. The whole salon was jumping around celebrating with me, it was amazing. The salon owner called me up afterwards and asked if I wanted to buy her business from her. I’m not sure that is exactly what I had in mind for my winnings! Instead I think I’ll buy a nice holiday home in Menorca and maybe even a BMW.”

Donna Rhodes, 39, who is originally from County Durham but has lived in Liverpool for ten years, lives with her partner David, 38, and their two teenage children. She said: “I didn’t have any holidays left and was due to work all over Christmas so the best news is I won’t have to anymore and instead I can hand in my notice! “My mother Gladys is in her 70s and is the sole carer for my brother who suffers from MS, so we are hoping to buy a big house so they can come to live with us and we can help look after him as well. We’d also love a little holiday home in Malta. “I got a call telling me the news while I was at a Remembrance Sunday parade. I shouted out with joy and started dancing down the street. I think everyone thought I had gone completely loopy. It’s just such an amazing feeling.”

The Magnificent Seven’s winning numbers were 11, 19, 34, 43 and 45 and the Lucky Star numbers were 5 and 9. The winning ticket was bought from Earle Road Newsagents, in Liverpool.

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