EuroMillions winner who scooped £115m gives away half of jackpot – and can’t stop helping strangers

A Hartlepool woman has handed over half of her EuroMillions lottery win because she likes to give to good causes.

Frances Connolly, 55, who won the £115m EuroMillions jackpot on New Year’s Day in 2019, has already given away £11m to charitable causes this year so far, resulting in her husband Patrick setting a ‘budget.’ Patrick said she is ‘addicted’ to helping others, which she says ‘gives her a buzz.’

The ex-teacher, who is originally from Moira in Northern Ireland but lives in Hartlepool, had set aside some cash for charities over the course of the next 10 years, but instead splashed the £11m already in 2022. Frances has not only been giving away cash but even hosted a charity gala night that raised £100,000.

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Described as a real-life ‘Fairy Godmother,’ Ms Connolly, told The Mirror: “I get to change people’s lives. I’m addicted to it.

“I get to change people’s lives every day if I want to. Helping other people and doing something to help other people will lift you.

“If you can give to others, whether it’s time or money, it’s really important, it gives you a buzz. It’s addictive. I’m addicted to it now.”

On her latest giveaway, she added: “I’m at about 10 or 11 million paid directly to charity, but I don’t keep a tally in case Paddy finds it. He gave me an annual budget for good causes. We set one this year, I agreed to it. I’ve already spent all the money. It was to take us up to 2032. We might have to revise it.”

Frances Connolly, 52, and Patrick Connolly, 54, scooped a £115 million EuroMillions jackpot
Frances Connolly, 52, and Patrick Connolly, 54, scooped a £115 million EuroMillions jackpot

She joked: “People do ask, ‘How did you cope with that amount of money?’ I say: ‘I never did. It wasn’t in the bank for two days’.

Most recently, Frances gave away £5,000 to buy clothes and toiletries for Ukrainian refugees and agreed to fund school transport fees for a young asylum seeker after he was forced to move home. The Connollys also recently bought a £50,000 caravan for young carers.

Frances and Patrick have also set up the ‘Local Heroes’ awards, helping OAPs connect with loved ones by donating electronic tablets and providing pajamas and laptops for hospitals during the covid lockdown.

The Hartlepool resident drew up a list of causes she would give to, which included the PFC Trust in Hartlepool and the Irish-based Kathleen Graham Foundation, named after Frances’ mum, which began with £1m donations. She explained: “If you can do good things for serving people, why wouldn’t you just do it? It makes no sense to me to have that kind of money and not use it to do good in the world.”

Frances didn’t forget about her family though, with her initial £60m giveaway including their three grandchildren, eight siblings, 15 nieces and nephews, four great-nieces and nephews, as well as complete strangers.

Lottery winner Frances Connolly
Lottery winner Frances Connolly

In an earlier interview, Frances said: “We decided very early on that our daughters were not going to get tens of millions. They got more than anybody else, they got enough to buy a house, and live comfortably, but they will have to work for anything else they want. They will get more when we die. The rest we will be giving away to charity. We did not want to be dishing out loads and loads to them straight away.

Frances said she is proud that her daughters Katrina, 34, a mum-of-two, Natalie, 26, a student, and her twin Fiona have helped others, just like herself and Patrick. Frances joked that Patrick’s first purchase would’ve been “an electric fence and machine gun turrets” at their seven-acre property to protect their winnings. She added: “He tells everybody I’m the one doing the charities, but it’s his money and if he wasn’t happy with what we’re doing we wouldn’t be doing it.”

The couple also organized a gala dinner at Hartlepool College on Saturday, and sold Cristiano Ronaldo’s signed shirt, a diamond necklace worth £4,500 from Boodles, a break at a top Northumberland hotel (complete with an Aston Martin), and a holiday in Donegal, with all the money raised going to local causes.

Frances added: “This is an area that needs support. One of the things that makes me most proud is the support we’ve been able to give to kids who just never get a break from looking after their loved ones. Money liberates you to be the person you want to be. I’d say to anyone in our situation: ‘Think about the person you want to be. The money will free you to be that person.”

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