Meet the down-to-earth Euromillions winners who never stopped thinking of others despite scooping last week’s £105million jackpot.
Builder Steve Thomson, 42, did not want to let his customers down in the run-up to Christmas, so he was back up a ladder hours after finding out he had more money than he ever dreamed of.
He and wife Lenka, 41, who have two sons aged 15 and 10 and an eight-year-old daughter, plan to enjoy a beach holiday and to move out of their cramped home so their sons can finally have rooms of their own.
But other than that they want to use their new fortune to help others.
Steve said: “We’re going to do a lot of good with this money. It’s too much for us. It’s so much money I’m going to be generous…sensibly generous.
“Not just family and friends but lots of people will benefit from this…Everyone’s going to have a good Christmas.
“I still can’t get my head around the amount. One million would have done – but I’ve got 105!”
He has pledged to finish all his jobs by Christmas to avoid disappointing clients.
Lenka, who has quit her job in a convenience store, added: “There’s five of us living in a shoebox three-bed terraced house.
“The boys have to share their room and there is quite an age gap between them. It’s a dream for them to have their own space. This is life-changing for us.”
Steve has lived his whole life in Selsey, West Sussex, and he and Lenka insist they will not leave now.
The generous couple hope to use some of their money to support charities and the community where Steve’s window cleaner dad Peter and mum Kathleen also live.
Steve said: “At the end of the day I’m still Steve and this is still Lenka.
“We want to live where we live and we don’t want to change. It’s a nice village and I don’t want to leave it.
“So whatever I can do in the community I will, I have to be sensibly generous.”
The couple want to treat their closest family and friends to new homes – but say it is too early to put a number on how many millionaires they will make.
Neighbours could not be happier for the popular couple. One, Cliff Gordon, said: “They are such a lovely couple and they work ever so hard so they completely deserve it – I’m so pleased for them. It’s amazing he went into work after he found out he’d won.
“I don’t think I’d have done the same thing in that position.”
Steve bought the lucky dip ticket from a newsagents run by Kandarp and Priti Patel, next to the Premier store where Slovakian-born Lenka works part-time.
His numbers won £105,100,701.90 on Tuesday last week – the 25th anniversary of the National Lottery’s first draw.
But Steve, who runs a window and conservatory business with pal Neil, did not check them until Friday morning after dropping his kids at school – and then everything changed. He said: “From that moment onwards I was a shaking, gibbering wreck. I felt nervous, sick. I walked around the living room a few times, went out to the van…
“I was going to knock on my neighbour’s door but I came back in again. Five minutes of madness.”
He then drove around the corner to see Lenka at work, and demanded she came out to his van for a private chat.
She said: “First of all I thought something had happened to our children, but then he said: ‘we’ve won the lottery.’” Steve then met his business partner for breakfast at nearby cafe Paws With Friends – but was in so much shock he could not eat.
Owner Robbie Doyle said: “He normally has a full breakfast but on Friday he came in and had scrambled eggs on toast. I walked over later, saw he hadn’t eaten anything and said: ‘Anything wrong with that, Steve?’
He told me: ‘Robbie, I swear to you here’s nothing wrong with your food, it’s just me today, I don’t feel too good.’
“I was worried he didn’t like the food but if I’d just found out I’d won £105million I’d have been the same. The money’s gone to a good person.”
Steve and Neil then went to make good a hole in a ceiling where Steve had fallen through during a loft insulation job the week before.
He said: “I made the mistake so I had to put it right. I did a good job and the customer was very happy. I’ve still got jobs to do before Christmas..I will hold my word to it that they will get finished. I’m not hanging up my tool belt, definitely not.”
It was only after finishing their work that day Steve and Lenka phoned their parents to tell them their good news. Then they got on with their busy family life – taking their son to football, shopping, packing lunch boxes and ironing uniforms.
But they admit they had a few sleepless nights planning how to spend their win. At a press conference where the couple went public with the windfall yesterday, Lenka apologised to neighbours after finding herself washing up in the middle of the night as she came to terms with the win.
Lenka and Steve held hands throughout the press conference.
They have been married 13 years, after meeting in 2002 while working at a campsite. They currently live in a small £120,000 former council house with a rusting skip and concrete building slabs outside.
That will soon change as the family move to a bigger home – but they are not about to fritter their fortune away on outrageous extravagances.
Steve has so far treated himself to two new shirts and added a shave and £3 tip to his usual haircut.
And he is being sensible with what he promises the children, too.
He said: “My eldest son is a very sensible kid and he just said ‘Dad, can I have my own room?’. No problem, of course you can. Then my middle child, the 10-year-old, he said ‘Can I have a Tesla?’ Not a chance. My daughter just asked for a pink iPhone so I think she’s going to get that.”
Steve and Lenka struggled to explain the magnitude of the lottery win to their children.
Their 10-year-old son was watching the news yesterday morning and asked: “How much is it?”
When Steve told him they were richer than singer Cheryl Cole his lad said: “Who’s Cheryl Cole?” So Steve told him they are now twice as wealthy as England star Harry Kane.
However, Steve has already warned the thrilled youngsters that if they want something in future they will “have to earn it”.
The huge windfall puts the Thomsons ninth on the all-time UK lottery rich list and leaves them wealthier than The Late Late Show host James Corden and former Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson.
It was the sixth major Euromillions win by British punters so far this year but falls some way short of the record £170million landed by an anonymous winner last month.
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