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EuroMillions winners who scooped £115 million plan to share their good fortune with Hartlepool community football club

Frances and Patrick Connolly, from Northern Ireland, lived in Hartlepool for 25 years Credit: PA

A couple who scooped a £115 million EuroMillions jackpot on New Year's Day have pledged to donate money to a community football club in Hartlepool.

Frances and Patrick Connolly, from Northern Ireland, lived in Hartlepool for 25 years and plan to give money to St Francis football club where Frances used to work.

Mrs Connolly, 52, said deciding how far to spread their good fortune would be difficult.

"I'm going to cry myself to sleep that I can't help everybody. That will be really tough"

– Frances Connolly
Frances and Patrick Connolly, from Northern Ireland, lived in Hartlepool for 25 years Credit: PA

At a press conference earlier Frances and Patrick said they have begun drawing up a list of family and friends they'd like to share their good fortune with.

They say they've come up with around 50 people who they'd like to give money too but haven't got round to telling everyone yet.

The couple have been together for 30 years and have three grown-up daughters and three grandchildren. One of the couple's daughters studied Physics at Durham University.

This is a massive sum of money and we want it to have a huge impact on the lives of other people we know and love as well as on our future too. This win gives us the chance to really make a difference for our family and friends.

I always hoped we would win the lottery one day, but when we did, it would be just our luck that lots of others would win on the same day with the same numbers too - never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever win almost £115 million."

– Frances Connolly

Frances's husband Patrick, 54, said the win felt "unreal".

The couple said they sat in silence after they had realised they had won, struggling to take it in.

Mrs Connolly said:

We don't really do excited - perhaps I raised my voice just a bit at the time when I found out - but we celebrated with a cup of tea and a hug."

– Frances Connolly

We really didn't know what to do or how to react and we didn't sleep a wink that night. We rang Camelot at 8am in the morning to verify the win.

Then it started to dawn on us that it was true even though it still hasn't really sunk in."

– Patrick Connolly
Frances and Patrick Connolly, from Northern Ireland, lived in Hartlepool for 25 years Credit: PA

The couple are still deciding how to treat themselves.

Mrs Connolly would like to buy a second hand Jaguar and her husband says he just wants to shower his wife with gifts, although a holiday to Mauritius could be on the cards as well as some trips to watch rugby matches and a F1 Grand Prix.

They pair live in a rented home and were considering a move to Croydon in March as Mr Connolly had been offered a new job as an operations manager. But since finding out about the win, he has decided to retire for now.

Mrs Connolly has worked previously as an educational programme coordinator and is planning to do a PHD in clinical psychology.

Frances and Patrick Connolly, from Northern Ireland, lived in Hartlepool for 25 years Credit: PA

The winning EuroMillions numbers on 1 January 2019 were 01, 08, 11, 25, 28 and Lucky Stars number 04 and 06.

The Connollys are the fourth biggest UK winners and the biggest from Northern Ireland.

In July 2011, Colin and Chris Weir, from Ayrshire, became the biggest lottery winners in the UK, and across Europe, when they scooped more than £161 million.

Adrian and Gillian Bayford, from Suffolk, took home more than £148 million in August 2012 while the biggest prize awarded in the country in 2018 was £121 million, handed to an anonymous winner in April.

Asked whether she would have to increase her personal security, she joked:

I've never met anybody I couldn't take down myself, to be fair."

– Frances Connolly
Frances and Patrick Connolly, from Northern Ireland, lived in Hartlepool for 25 years Credit: PA

Mrs Connolly, who said their ticket was a lucky dip, insisted the win would not change them as people. Noting her mobility problems, she indicated a huge mansion was not on the cards.

I want a bungalow because I can't walk up the stairs, there's no way I'm joining the jet set."

– Frances Connolly