'It could be ewe' says Hague's lucky aunt

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The Independent Online
WILLIAM HAGUE'S auntie has won the lottery. And the sheep on the Yorkshire moors have hit the jackpot.

The announcement yesterday that the Conservative Party leader's aunt had scooped the pounds 856,648 top prize in Wednesday's National Lottery draw was curious enough. Her choice of what to splash out on was even more curious - a prize ram.

Marjorie Longdin, 73, a farmer's widow from Tickhill,South Yorkshire, plans to buy the pounds 20,000 Texel Scottish ram - which she described as "the champagne of sheep" - for the family's 300-acre farm. When the ram begins to feel at home she will then book a cruise.

She said yesterday: "I always said that if I won the lottery I'd holiday on the Norwegian coastal cruise every year for life. Now I can book my ticket."

Mrs Longdin, who attended Mr Hague's wedding in Westminster last year, said she did not realise she had scooped a share of the jackpot until she checked her numbers in the paper on Thursday. "I thought, 'I've got three numbers, I've got four', then I thought, 'Oh my God, I've got the lot'. I just went all shaky."

She telephoned her sister Stella, Mr Hague's mother. "Almost the first thing I did was to ring William's mother and say, 'You'll never believe it, I've won the lottery. Will you let William know because I don't want to put a foot wrong?'

"He rang me this morning and said, 'Auntie Marjorie, I'm so delighted for you. When's the party going to be?"

In fact the party is this weekend and the Opposition leader will not be able to attend as he will be at another party - the Prince of Wales's 50th.

Newly conscious that "it could be you", or at the very least "it could be your auntie", Mr Hague is now determined to play the lottery every week.

Mrs Longdin expanded on what else she might spend her winnings on. "I realised I could now travel business class on an aeroplane, first class on a train, have a manicure every week and go to the chiropodist every fortnight." Then the otherwise careful widow made a political reference, though not one to which her nephew would object. "It's nice to know that my family is safe for life, especially when we're going into a recession," she said.

She was one of four winners to share the pounds 3.4m jackpot. Mr Hague said he was delighted by her success, but did not expect to see any of the money. "I'll keep on earning my crust," he said.

But while it was a happy day for the Hague family, as far as William is concerned the news will be broken around the world in a rather ambivalent manner. Reuters began its report: "Something has finally gone right for Conservative Party leader William Hague ..."