A true rags to riches fairytale with £1m win

Tony and Deb Pearce, Southend
Tony and Deb Pearce, Southend

Lottery winners Tony and Deb

A couple from Southend-on-Sea who have battled ill-health and, as a result, financial hardship can now put an end to their 30 year engagement and finally say ‘I do’ after scooping the £1m Lotto Millionaire Raffle prize.


The lucky pair, Tony Pearce, 66, and Deb Gellatly, 58, who until they discovered the win on Sunday, November 26 had planned to sell their bungalow to avoid repossession, are still coming to terms with the huge change in their fortunes.

Tony said: “This time last year we had life all planned out. We were both working, had a nice three-bed home and could see our comfortable retirement within grasp. Then, while on holiday this February, I had a cardiac arrest and our life was turned upside down.

“The doctor told me I could go back to work but I would be unlikely see the year out, or stop working all together. Obviously we took the latter but it put a massive strain on our finances and we’d decided our only way forward was to sell the house and move away to a cheaper part of the country.

“When I saw the email saying there was news about my ticket I assumed, like everyone, it would be a couple of quid so didn’t actually click on the email straightaway. When I did, with bleary eyes, no glasses and the small print on my phone, I thought we’d won £1. Then I took a closer look and saw a selection of noughts and realised it was quite a bit more.”

With the money now in the bank, Tony, a former business manager for a local car showroom and Deb, who works in administration, can really start to make plans.


Tony continued: “There’ll be the obvious sensible stuff like paying off the rest of the mortgage on the bungalow and our debts, plus some renovations we’d planned when we bought the place 10 years ago, but most importantly in the first half of 2018 Deb and I will finally tie the knot in a dream wedding.

For the couple who met more than 30 years ago the end of their financial woes will herald the start of the secure retirement they were working towards before Tony was taken so seriously ill.

Tony added: “The way I see it, earlier this year the hospital gave me my life back, now the lottery has given our life together back and we intend to enjoy every second of it.”


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