A lottery winner who picked up a £2.7 million jackpot 25 years ago is still stacking shelves at a supermarket because she wants to be a good role model for her children.
Elaine Thompson, 64, from Killingworth, north Tyneside, works at Marks & Spencer, starting her shifts at 2am and finishing at 9am.
She became a millionaire in December 1995 after winning the lottery.
However, together with her husband Derek, Elaine decided to carry on working so that she would be a good role model to her children Karen and Gary, who were five and 10 at the time.
Despite being vulnerable due to her asthma, she continued to work throughout the coronavirus lockdown, starting her shifts at 2am.
Elaine Thompson, 64, from Killingworth, north Tyneside, working at Marks & Spencer despite her lottery win 25 years ago
Together with her husband Derek, Elaine decided to carry on working so that she would be a good role model to her children
Pictured with her husband Derek and brother Ian after her win. Despite being vulnerable due to her asthma, she continued to work throughout the coronavirus lockdown
The 64-year-old Marks & Spencer worker, said: ‘I did the 2am starts everyday so I’m in from 2am to 9am.
‘The company was fantastic. They let me go at 8.30am because I’m asthmatic and I’m vulnerable so I was not with any of the customers.
‘I was leaving the house at 1.15am every morning, I get up at midnight.
‘A couple of times during lockdown it was really really hard.
‘I was driving to work thinking ‘What am I doing?’
‘But I kept working all the way through. I could not have done furlough. I’m coming up to 65 next week but I’m not ready to retire yet.’
Speaking about her decision, Elaine added: ‘I had two young children at the time when I made the decision.
‘It’s important that children see you working hard, and that we don’t get anything out of life unless you work hard for it.’
She hoped to inspire her children to be the first in the family to go to university, which they later achieved.
The couple will celebrate 25 years since their lottery win this year, on the same date they celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Although she and semi-retired accountant husband Derek, 62, don’t currently have any plans, they often like to visit Las Vegas on holiday.
Lottery winner and catalogue shopper Elaine Thompson relaxes by a jacuzzi with some champagne and a Freemans catalogue with models
National Lottery presenters Frank Bruno, Bob Monkhouse and Mystic Meg celebrate the 100th jackpot draw with some of the past winners (back l to r) Bob Westland ( 3.7m), Ken Southwell ( 900,000), Elaine Thompson ( 2.7m), Peter Lavery ( 10.2m) and karl Crompton ( 10.9m)
Aside from dozens of trips to Vegas, the couple also helped Gary, now 30, and Karen, now 35, to buy their first houses and get on the property ladder.
One of the first things they splashed out on after winning was a new Ford Fiesta and later they bought three racehorses.
But the early supermarket shifts four days a week help to keep Elaine grounded.
‘People ask me why I have not got a cleaner. If she came to clean, I would have cleaned the house before she got here.
‘For me, I was brought up to be a hard worker, I love to work.
‘I have got the best job in the world,’ she said.
Elaine added: ‘I absolutely love my job and just because I won the lottery, this didn’t make me want to give up work. I think it is all about balance.
National Lottery presenter Anthea Turner (centre) joins past jackpot winners to celebrate the game’s fifth anniversary. Elaine is far left
‘I have continued to work but work hours which are more suited to me and with the remainder of the time I have been able to help out at and support charities which are close to me.’
A nationwide survey of 2,000 British workers revealed how some people would pursue their dream career if they won the lottery, like Elaine and Derek.
The importance of careers for people in Newcastle wouldn’t change even after a potential lottery win, with 38% of those polled in the city saying if they were to win big, they would take the opportunity to learn a new trade.
Almost a quarter (24%) say they would focus on charity work and 20% say they would study for their pilot’s licence.
Camelot’s senior winners’ advisor, Andy Carter said: ‘2020 seems to have left many of us wanting more from our jobs, thinking about what our next career move might be or jacking it all in to do something that we really love.
‘Our passion for gardening and cooking in lockdown and months of home-schooling has clearly inspired the nation to consider a career overhaul and realise the importance of job satisfaction.
‘And the importance of our careers doesn’t appear to change even after a lottery win, with only a few looking to quit their jobs if they win.
‘Over half of National Lottery winners still work in some capacity and just under a quarter of them have started their own business after their win, turning their hand to floristry, hairdressing – we even have one that has invented their own spicy sauce!’