Published: 12:21, 31 December 2021
| Updated: 12:32, 31 December 2021
A lucky couple from Kent are finally able to buy their own home after winning £300,000 on a £3 scratchcard.
The win has come after "a really tough couple of years" for Louisa and Greg Tomlinson - which saw Louisa, 57, have a stroke, and then undergo treatment to mend a hole in her heart.
Her ill health had a significant impact on finances and future plans for the parents-of-five, but thanks to the chance purchase of a scratchcard while Christmas shopping their future now looks very bright.
"It’s been a really tough couple of years," said Louisa, from Ash near Canterbury.
"I’d just started a new job when I had the stroke, and in treating that the doctors discovered that I also had a hole in my heart.
"I haven’t worked since, and Greg, a trained electrician, had to take a part-time delivery job so he was around to look after me as I recovered."
But the couple's luck began to change just before Christmas, when they popped to Tesco Extra in Broadstairs to pick up some food shopping for Christmas Day.
"This sort of thing doesn’t happen to people like us..."
As they were leaving, Louisa remembered she had a free Lotto Lucky Dip to play from a previous draw so, handing Greg £10, she asked him to grab the ticket and to choose a couple of extra scratchcards as a Christmas treat.
Greg, 62, recalls: "Once we got home we put the shopping away and, with a cup of tea in hand, sat down to play our scratchcards.
"I was busy with mine when Louisa said ‘I think I’ve won £10,000’, then paused and counted the number of words she’d revealed again and then said, ‘hang on, I think we’ve won an awful lot of money!’
“I looked at her scratchcard and saw that she had revealed 12 words which meant the top prize of £300,000.
"This sort of thing doesn’t happen to people like us so we checked, double-checked and triple-checked before I finally said, ‘I think we’d better call Camelot.’
"When they confirmed the win, we burst into tears.”
The couple have always dreamed of owning their own home but never thought that would become a reality.
Louisa said: "To be honest, over the last 18 months I’ve thought of nothing else, scouring Rightmove for the perfect little cottage.
"I knew we could never afford it but the daydreaming kept me entertained while I was shielding.
"It now looks like that time on Rightmove was well spent because I know exactly what I’m looking for and where: a cosy two-bedroom with a kitchen diner – shaker style – a wood burning stove and a small garden in Norfolk!”
With their win confirmed, the pair signed the back of their scratchcard, locked it away securely and then barely left the house for fear of something happening to it.
“It sounds crazy but I was actually too scared to think about it, and wouldn’t even look at the filing cabinet," said Louisa.
"I think we were in a state of shock and just couldn’t believe that our biggest dream, to finally buy our own home in Norfolk, could actually become a reality.”
The couple - who have been married for 22 years - have now received their winnings and are wasting no time.
Louisa has been back on Rightmove creating a shortlist of properties to view in Norfolk.
“This really is a dream come true," she said. "It’s going to give us both a much better quality of life. Living in our own home, that nobody can take away from us, will bring peace of mind and I’m sure will be brilliant for my recovery too.
“Once I am back on my feet and we are settled in, I want to volunteer at the local hospital, to give back to the NHS who looked after me so well.
"Without them, I wouldn’t be here today for another truly life-changing event, but this time a very good one!”
Louisa and Greg's winning scratchcard was a National Lottery Scrabble Cashword.
It has a one in 3.53 overall chance of winning a prize, with each game costing £3 and prizes ranged from £3 up to the top prize of £300,000.
For confidential support on gambling addiction visit the Gamblers Anonymous website, by clicking here.