£115million EuroMillions winners Frances and Patrick Connolly pledge to support Hartlepool community football team

Frances and Patrick Connolly at this morning's press conference
Frances and Patrick Connolly at this morning's press conference

A former Hartlepool couple who scooped a £115million EuroMillions jackpot on New Year's Day have pledged to support a community football club in the town.

Frances and Patrick Connolly, from Moira in Northern Ireland, lived in Hartlepool for 25 years.

Mrs Connolly used to work with St Francis FC and plans to use some of the cash to help the club.

Mrs Connolly, 52, said: "This is a massive sum of money and we want it to have a huge impact on the lives of other people we know and love as well as on our future too.

"This win gives us the chance to really make a difference for our family and friends.

"I always hoped we would win the lottery one day, but when we did, it would be just our luck that lots of others would win on the same day with the same numbers too - never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever win almost £115 million."

This morning's press conference

This morning's press conference

Mr Connolly, 54, said the win felt 'unreal'.

The couple said they sat in silence after they had realised they had won, struggling to take it in.

Mrs Connolly said: "We don't really do excited - perhaps I raised my voice just a bit at the time when I found out - but we celebrated with a cup of tea and a hug."

Mr Connolly said: "We really didn't know what to do or how to react and we didn't sleep a wink that night. We rang Camelot at 8am in the morning to verify the win.

Frances Connolly

Frances Connolly

"Then it started to dawn on us that it was true even though it still hasn't really sunk in."

The couple, who have been together for 30 years and have three grown up daughters and three grandchildren, are still deciding how to treat themselves.

Mrs Connolly would like to buy a second hand Jaguar and her husband says he just wants to shower his wife with gifts, although a holiday to Mauritius could be on the cards as well as some trips to watch rugby matches and a F1 Grand Prix.

They pair live in a rented home and were considering a move to Croydon in March as Mr Connolly had been offered a new job as an operations manager.

Patrick Connolly

Patrick Connolly

But since finding out about the win, he has decided to retire for now.

Mrs Connolly has worked previously as an educational programme coordinator and is planning to do a PHD in clinical psychology.

The winning EuroMillions numbers on 1 January 2019 were 01, 08, 11, 25, 28 and Lucky Stars number 04 and 06.

The couple are regular Lotto players but only normally bought tickets for EuroMillions when there was a big jackpot. Mr Connolly bought his lucky ticket online.

He said he checked the results on his laptop later that night and then turned to his wife and said: "I think I've got some good news for you."

Mrs Connolly said when she saw her husband was looking at the lottery she realised they must have won something.

"I said it must be more than £2.60," she joked. "We won £2.60 the week before."

The couple went public with their news at the luxury Culloden Hotel in Co Down this morning.

Mr Connolly is a business man and Mrs Connolly is a teacher who has been off work for a period of time due to a leg injury.

She insisted the win would not change them as people and that deciding how far to spread their good fortune would be tough.

"I'm going to cry myself to sleep that I can't help everybody. That will be really tough," she said.

Asked whether she would have to increase her personal security, Mrs Connolly joked: "I've never met anybody I couldn't take down myself, to be fair."

Noting her leg injury, she indicated a huge mansion was not on the cards.

"I want a bungalow because I can't walk up the stairs," she said. "There's no way I'm joining the jet set."

Mr Connolly paid tribute to his "wonderful" wife and family.

"This is the icing on the cake."

Mrs Connolly said they had always been happy but the win would make them a "hell of a lot happier", adding that they would travel and help people in the community.

She added: "I cannot see us being in the limelight for a long time.

"There are no skeletons, there are no dirty pictures, there is not enough to keep us in the public eye."

They have three grandchildren, two boys and a girl.

They have three daughters, one aged 30 and twins aged 24.

One twin is in New Zealand doing a Masters degree. She will be travelling home and, during her stopover, has upgraded from a hostel to a modest hotel.

Mrs Connolly said: "I am going to cry myself to sleep that I cannot help everyone, that will be really tough."

Mr Connolly is a businessman who once ran his own firm. He predicted he would not be able to sit around long before he had to get back to doing something.

He said his expertise was in manufacturing and he hoped to create more jobs using part of their fortune.

They said they were hard-working people who did not carry a lot of debt and did not indulge in luxuries before their win.

Mrs Connolly said she would get pleasure in seeing the telephone number-sized amount in her bank account go down.

Mr Connolly said: "We are quite level-headed people, we are not overly extravagant - yet."

After the press conference, the couple went outside the hotel and laughed and joked as they sprayed champagne and kissed for photographers.

At one point, Mrs Connolly joked with the assembled media pack that she only wanted images that showed her with 'one chin'.

She then expressed faux disappointment at one of her husband's kisses, remarking: "I wanted a bit of tongue."

The grandparents punched the air and waved their bumper cheque as the champagne flowed to toast their remarkable.

After spraying multiple bottles, Mrs Connolly queried with lottery advisers - "Who's going to clean all this up?"