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My £2.2m lottery win

PUBLISHED: 09:50 19 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:35 06 July 2010

Victoria Nicholls

When Lowestoft man Graham Howlett thinks back to the moment he realised he had hit the jackpot in 2004, he confesses to being “not terribly excited”.

When Lowestoft man Graham Howlett thinks back to the moment he realised he had hit the jackpot in 2004, he confesses to being “not terribly excited”.

True to his word five years on, Mr Howlett and his wife Christine have resisted being swept up by spending fever and have kept their feet firmly on the ground.

Although the couple, who scooped £2.2m on the National Lottery with a lucky dip ticket, moved house and bought a starter home each for Mrs Howlett's two adult daughters, they say daily life has not changed dramatically.

Mr Howlett, 51, who worked at the Birds Eye factory, said one of the best aspects of the big win was leaving behind the stress of finding money for bills, adding: “You've got that freedom to do what you want, when you want, how you want.”

Although no amount of money would get him on a plane, the couple have taken a liking to life on the ocean waves, enjoying cruises in Egypt, the Norwegian Fjords and the Caribbean. But they said they were just as happy on their traditional annual holidays at Butlins with friends, and are planning a trip to Weston-super-Mare for a gathering of British Legion supporters.

A Norwich City fan who never had the money to buy a season ticket since he started going to Carrow Road in 1970, Mr Howlett decided to treat himself with his winnings, only to find he had to go on a waiting list before he eventually realised his dream.

Unwilling to break a lifetime's habit, the couple still surf the internet for last-minute deals on hotel bookings, and Mrs Howlett, 48, said she had recently returned from holiday in America where she spent $16.99 on an outfit, adding. “It's lovely - I still like a bargain.”

Mr Howlett said: “You live within your means. At the end of the day it depends how much you win, when you win it and how old you are.”

His wife agreed: “I don't feel I spend much more than I did before, apart from the holidays. If you spent a lot before winning, you will spend a lot after. We've always been reasonably careful and saved for our holidays. The simple things are just as good as, if not better than, expensive things.”

Mrs Howlett, who has lost both her parents since the win, added: “People don't think you still have a normal life. Money's lovely but you realise how that's not important when you lose people.”

Mr Howlett, who gave up his job after scooping the jackpot, now joins his wife doing voluntary work two mornings a week in the convenience shop at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

His wife said most people had been excited for them when they heard about the win, saying: “Sometimes I can't believe it. I was surprised how pleased people were that we had won - they think, if we won, they could - just everyday people.”

So, do they still play the lottery? “Now and again,” said Mr Howlett. “You never know.”

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