A couple who scooped a £1 million lottery scratchcard prize have thanked their cat Shortcake for the win – after rushing out to buy its pet food.
Andrew and Paula Hancock, who run a catering business, forgot the cat’s dinner so Mr Hancock rushed out in his wife’s car to a local petrol station to get pet food.
He also picked up a £5 Monopoly Millionaire scratchcard, winning one of the four £1 million jackpot prizes on July 24.
In the rush of excitement, Mr Hancock again forgot to buy six-year-old ginger tom Shortcake’s food so the pet, known in the family as “Shorty”, ended up with ham later that evening.
After getting home and telling his family, the winning ticket was hidden in a Gordon Ramsay cookbook for safe-keeping until National Lottery’s officials could validate the win.
Andrew, 46, and Paula, 43, who live near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, now plan on enjoying some time off, with a holiday to Australia and other trips abroad.
The only purchase they have made so far is a new phone for their 12-year-old son Xavier, although Mrs Hancock admitted that she “couldn’t get off Rightmove” for the first few days.
There are also plans to pay off their mortgage, get a new car and take their judo green-belt son to see the Olympics in Japan.
Mr Hancock said: “If it wasn’t for Shortcake, we wouldn’t be millionaires.”
Asked if the affectionate pet had brought them much luck before, Mr Hancock said: “Not particularly. He’s just a normal cat.”
The couple also added that the feline “does like a fight”, joking that he “keeps everybody up at night”.
However, Mr Hancock said the much-loved family pet would now “absolutely” be getting an upgrade on his food choices.
Shortcake appeared to be taking everything in his stride as the focus of photographers at a press call announcing the couple’s lottery success at The Pumping House, at Ollerton, on Tuesday.
Explaining how the win came about, Mr Hancock said: “We’d had about a 10-12-hour shift and on the way home I said ‘I’m going to nip home, and on the way I’ll get some food for tea for tonight and I’ll get some cat food’.
“I got back home and I’d forgotten the cat food.
“So I said (to Paula) ‘right I’ll take your car, fill up at the petrol station and get some cat food from the petrol station’.
“So I went into the petrol station, filled up, got a scratchcard and went back to the car and scratched it in the car – and still didn’t get the cat food.”
He added: “So I scratched the card and I’m looking at the card, in disbelief.
“So I thought, I’ll get straight home and go out for the cat food and get that later on. Which we didn’t, so he had ham. He was quite happy with that.”
Mrs Hancock said she thought something was wrong when her husband came home shouting “Paula, Paula”.
But when he claimed to have won a million, she said to him: “Let’s have a look?” and he replied: “I know how a scratchcard works!”
She revealed that Mr Hancock had twice won £100 in the two preceding weeks with same type of scratchcard, as he added it was a case of “third time lucky”.
The couple ended up “drinking Pimm’s” with close family into the early hours, although Mrs Hancock still got up to work at 6.30am.
The couple said they did not down tools from their catering company catering business Jaspers, which employs 10 people, immediately because they had a long-term commitment to cater for the Robin Hood Festival, which finished on Sunday after they had pulled a 90-hour week.
“Now we can take a little breather, we’re going on holiday – we’re going to France,” added Mrs Hancock.
Shortcake will be staying at home with Mrs Hancock’s mother, away from the limelight.
Mrs Hancock added: “Yes, we’re very thankful to Shortcake. And Andy’s memory – or lack of it.”