A woman in England who scooped up £115 million (USD 145 million) in lottery winnings on the EuroMillions in 2019 said she is “addicted” to helping others, so much that she has already given away more than half of it.
Frances Connolly (55) revealed that she has already surpassed the annual charity budget she and Paddy (57) had agreed to. She has already given away the money she would have donated up until 2032.
The former social worker and teacher has set up two charitable foundations, the PFC Trust in Hartlepool—where the couple has lived for 30 years—and another named after her late mother, Kathleen Graham, in their native Northern Ireland.
Recently, a fundraiser Frances organized for 250 guests made more than £100,000 (USD 125,449) for the PFC Trust, which supports the elderly, local young carers, and refugees.
When the Connollys won the lottery, they immediately gave away large amounts of cash to friends and family using a list Frances had prepared before the win—which she always believed would come to pass.
Frances estimates she has given away £60 million (USD 75,269,100), including to charitable organizations, but she doesn’t keep a record, joking that she would be worried if Paddy saw it.
She said that helping others, whether in the form of money or volunteered time, lifted people’s spirits during the seemingly never-ending lockdowns.
“It gives you a buzz and it’s addictive,” Frances said. “I’m addicted to it now.”
Frances has been a volunteer for others since before her huge lottery win. She has volunteered for the St. John Ambulance, a charity “dedicated to the teaching and practice of first aid and the support of the national emergency response system in England,” from age 9. While a student at Belfast University, she also started an AIDS helpline.
The Connollys have three daughters—Catrina, 34, and twins Natalie and Fiona, 26. The family isn’t extravagant and doesn’t desire to buy expensive items that won’t be of any use to them.
Their largest purchase after winning was a six-bedroom home with seven acres in County Durham. Paddy drives an Aston Martin second-hand.
Paddy still owns his plastic businesses. Frances is more involved in the trusts and supporting refugees. She also purchases electronic tablets for the older to allow them to stay in touch with their families.
Young carers hold a special place in Frances’ heart, and with the help of the trust and personal donations, she was able to purchase two caravans so they could go on respite breaks.
Frances is aware that she can’t resolve poverty on her own, so she set up the trusts to gain backing from other people, supported by the groups she wants to help.
When asked why she gives so much money away, Frances responded: “Oh, who needs all that money? Why wouldn’t you? I’ve done that all my life.”
“I’m not being funny, I’d have been a millionaire anyway if I took back all the money I’ve given away over the years,” she added.
People also ask Frances how she dealt with winning such a huge amount of money, but she said she never had to because “it wasn’t in the bank two days.”
“It’s still weird, but I’ve never actually had to come to terms with all that money because we had it for such a short amount of time,” she explained.
Winning the lottery has certainly transformed their lives, but Frances said wealth doesn’t change your personality. If she could give any advice to a winner, it would be this:
“Money’s not going to make you sensible. Money liberates you to be the person that you want to be,” she said.
“Think about what type of person you are and what type of person you want to be,” Frances added.
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