Lottery winners from Southend, Essex, seek to repay the stray black cat who brought them luck

Billy the lucky cat
Billy, who is thought to be eight years old, lives like a prince! Credit: National Lottery/PA

A lottery-winning couple are striving to please the "lucky" stray cat who moved into their home six months before they scooped £1 million.

Tony Pearce, 71, and his 63-year-old wife Deb Pearce from Southend in Essex started to feed Billy the black cat at a time when they were in financial difficulty.

Shortly afterwards, the pair won £1 million on the National Lottery in 2017 and their pet Billy has shared in their wealth.

Billy, who is thought to be eight years old, holidays with the couple at their second home in Norfolk, has a "huge carrier" so he can move around while travelling and enjoys a selection of food to pick from.

Lottery winners Tony Pearce, 71, and his 63-year-old wife Deb Pearce spare no expense looking after their cat Billy Credit: National Lottery/ PA

Mrs Pearce said: "Some people say black cats are unlucky, I'd say nothing could be further from the truth!

"When Billy appeared we were close to selling our beloved home and becoming strays ourselves.

"Tony had stopped working due to ill health and we were in serious debt.

"It looked like our only option was to go into rented accommodation then, six months after Billy arrived, lady luck struck and our lives changed for good," she said.

The couple have been able to stay in their home, renovate it and buy a holiday home in Norfolk.

Plus they have been able to hold their "dream wedding".

Billy was a stray when he arrived at the couple’s home six months before their 2017 lottery win Credit: National Lottery/ PA

Billy is now part of the family and the couple have spared no expense in looking after him, paying for twice daily insulin injections after he was diagnosed with diabetes and putting him on a tailored hypoallergenic diet.

"Aside from having us on call for his twice-daily injections, we also jump through hoops for his catering whims," said Mrs Pearce.

"Perhaps it's due to his days as a stray when he must have enjoyed a very varied diet, but now we have to keep a selection of food for him.

"It's not a bad life for a Southend stray who clearly turned up on the right doorstep at the right time and proved to us that black cats are in fact lucky!"

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