Business as usual for pounds 10m jackpot syndicate

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The Independent Online
Four members of a team of council workers whose syndicate won a pounds 10m share of the National Lottery roll-over jackpot said today they had no intention of giving up their jobs, helping people whose luck had run out.

They and the other 29 syndicate members, who work in the homeless persons' unit of Camden council in north London, never had any doubt about reporting for work as normal after learning they would each receive pounds 304,724, they said.

"We like our work - it's not the sort of job you could just not turn up for," said manager Christine Winter. Assessment officer Margie West said: "You can't just walk away from people who need you."

They said most of the 33 had met for champagne celebrations yesterday and there was never any question that anyone would fail to turn up for work at their base near King's Cross Station - an area notorious for street drug dealers, prostitutes and beggars. "It's a highly stressful kind of work," said Mrs Winter. "But we all are highly committed to it and no one is talking of leaving."

There was general agreement to wait for a while before deciding what to do with the money, but they said they were beginning to get some ideas.

Ms Martinez, who moved to London from her native Madrid, said: "I haven't decided yet but it's going to be something spectacular and outrageous like learning to jump out of an aeroplane." She said her 15-year-old daughter, Arantxa, "screamed the place down" with delight when she heard of the win.

Camden council leader Richard Arthur said: "We are thrilled for all the staff. There couldn't be a more deserving group and we're delighted.

"The fact that the whole group reported for work after their win underlines their dedication to helping homeless families, one of the most vulnerable groups in our society."

A nurse, who yesterday claimed Scotland's largest lottery win - pounds 10,055,900 - revealed that he has spent the last year sleeping on an airbed. But John McGuinness doesn't plan to change his life overnight.

He is thinking of going back to Law hospital in Strathclyde, where he is a theatre nurse, but has been given time off to think things over. "I need to do something with my time. I can't just sit around," said Mr McGuinness, of Shotts, near Glasgow.

Since his marriage broke down a year ago, Mr McGuinness, who earns pounds 150 a week, has lived with his parents in their one-bedroomed house.

He had no plans to spend the money but simply wanted to make sure his family was happy. His daughter, Lauren, aged 7, who lives with his estranged wife, Hazel, was over the moon.Mr McGuinness said Hazel had told him she was happy for him. "I will see that she is happy too," he said.