• Gary's story

    An evening like no other

    It was just a normal Thursday evening for Gary. At home after a long day at work painting the front of a local solicitors office, all he wanted to do was shower, eat and sleep. But his evening was about to take an unexpected turn, with a knock at the door and a delightful surprise that changed his life.

    “I was expecting a neighbour to call round at about 7pm that evening about a quote for a painting job, but the doorbell rang about an hour earlier than I expected, and my sister shouted that it was for me.” I went downstairs, thinking my neighbour had popped over early, but instead I was greeted at the front door by a smartly dressed woman.”

    “My first thought was that she was a Chief Inspector! I racked my brain and hoped I hadn’t bashed my van into a car earlier on in the day!” Gary said.

    To Gary’s relief, he hadn’t had a brush with the law. Instead he was face to face with NS&I’s very own Agent Million, who had some fantastic news for him.

    “She said that she wanted a word in private but assured me that I had nothing to worry about. It turns out, I didn’t!”

    “My first reaction to being told that I had won £1 million was relief, mainly that I hadn’t hit someone’s car! But once the news sank in, although I was too young to retire off it, I realised that if I remained sensible, I could be comfortable for the rest of my life.”

    Sleepless nights

    Gary, is a 34 year old self-employed decorator, a job he‘s been doing since he left school. He’s worked 7 days a week for most of his career and has always been sensible with money - regularly putting some away in his private pension, which he opened when he was 18 years old.

    And whilst many big Lottery and Premium Bond jackpot winners speak about sleepless nights thinking about what to do with their windfall, Gary already had his plan in mind.

    “I didn’t sleep much that night, but I had definitely decided that I was going to continue working as normal – perhaps taking the odd day off now and then. It was a comforting feeling more than anything else, that feeling that I could pretty much carry on as normal, but without having to worry as much.

    “After all I can earn more with my paint brush then I can in the banks!”

    Some kind of normality

    Gary wanted his win “to work for him” and enlisted the help of Matrix Capital, the financial advisers contracted to offer advice to Premium Bond jackpot winners.

    However, that’s not to say that he hasn’t allowed himself the odd extravagance. He still loves going on holidays with his mates and continues going to his beloved Arsenal Football Club on a weekly basis, but he has always seen his win as setting him up for the rest of his life.

    Gary won his prize in July 2015, but a year after the win, he has managed to acquire one particular valuable asset with his success. “I’ve upgraded my living arrangements and have bought my first property. Before my win, I thought I would be renting forever but now I don’t even have to worry about any mortgage payments. I have something to call my own and am able to give my mum a bit more space!”

    * Gary’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

  • TB’s story

    Carry on vacuuming

    On an ordinary Thursday afternoon in May last year, my vacuuming was interrupted by a young woman at the front door. She identified herself as being from NS&I and naturally I was cautious in allowing her into my home.

    Finally, she dropped the bombshell – I had won £1 million. My first reaction was: “Why hadn’t it come when I was younger?” I was 81.

    She told me I could buy a new car, go on cruises, move house, but I already could do and had done those things. My reply was that I would help my family – that would give me most joy.

    When she left I thought, who can I tell? My children were all at work so I phoned my partner. He was sceptical, convinced it was scam, but then he is a Yorkshireman! I got on with my vacuuming.

    What next

    A week or so later, NS&I set up a meeting with a recommended firm of financial consultants in a local hotel, where all the options, opportunities, possible pitfalls and obligations were presented. I was made aware that any gifts I made would be liable to tax if I did not live for seven years, so I had to be sure to keep sufficient money on hand for my children to pay the taxman, should I die before then.

    Sharing the love

    I gave my three children £200,000 each. One bought a holiday home in New York state (the sum seemed even bigger after being transferred into dollars then), another bought a newer house close to where I live, and the third paid off her mortgage and did much-needed work on the property. To each of my six grandchildren, I gave £10,000, which is a nice little nest egg. One granddaughter desperately wanted to do an MA and was able to pursue that ambition. She now has her dream job with the BBC.

    As for me, I did buy a new car but only when my beloved old one gave up the ghost. My partner and I visited my son in New York and flew back in first class. This year I again flew there first class. We take frequent holidays nearer to home for some winter sunshine. I also have a big adventure to look forward to – a month’s holiday, cruising around the Indian Ocean followed by stays at Victoria Falls and trips up the Zambezi.

    Second time lucky?

    I’ve held Premium Bonds since their inception in 1956, sometimes building up a substantial amount, sometimes running them down. At the time of my win I have just under £13,000 in Bonds. I seem to have had similar wins to your readers - lots of cheques for £25. After my £1 million jackpot, I took up almost the maximum allowance. The £25 prizes I still win automatically go into buying more Bonds. I understand no one has ever had two big wins. I wonder if this could happen to me. I will certainly let you know!

    TB, Nottinghamshire

    Source: The Sunday Times, 30 October 2016

  • Hannah's story

    Hannah won the £1 million jackpot in August 2004 – it was her first win. Her wining Bond, a number 50HXH949682, came from a £3,000 investment made in February 2003.

    “Agent Million arrived on a Sunday afternoon. It changed my life. I nearly passed out when I was told what I’d won. I was totally overwhelmed.

    “Before I won I was living on £108 pension a week so you can image how it changed my life. I bought a house and I also bought up the maximum (in Premium Bonds) straight away. I still get £50 a month and, to be honest, I get almost as much pleasure in those wins.

    “I’ve told very few people, just people who could share the secret and still act normally. I do sometimes tell strangers that, thanks to ERNIE, I’m having a lovely time.”

    * Hannah’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

  • Graham's story

    Graham works as a live-in caretaker in Lytham St Anne’s. He won £50,000 in August 2000.

    “I’d had Premium Bonds for 15 years when I won. I’d been buying them from time to time in blocks of £100.

    “I got the envelope and I thought it was a circular asking if I wanted to buy more until I saw the letter inside, which I’ve still got. I re-read the figure again and again because I thought it said £5,000.”

    By the time his cheque arrived, Graham had decided to spend the money on a property which he can live in if he ever leaves his job. “I got some funny looks when I told the building society I could buy it outright and that I wouldn’t need a mortgage, because I don’t look like the sort of person who has a lot of money.”

    Since buying the house, Graham has cashed in his Bonds to pay for an extension, but he says he plans to buy more in the future. “I believe luck never runs out so I’ll definitely buy more.” 

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