'I was shaking but couldn't speak,' says White Van Man after £56m lottery win

Maintenance man and partner quit jobs as EuroMillions jackpot makes them Britain's 980th-richest couple
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The Independent Online

It was like taking part in an episode of Blind Date: we knew their names and quite a good deal about them, but had no idea what they looked like.

Reporters who gathered for the EuroMillions press conference in Bath yesterday knew that Nigel Page was 43, drove a white van and enjoyed skydiving. We knew he had been with his partner Justine Laycock, 41, for eight years and she was an estate agent. We also knew Mr Page had just won £56,008,113.20, making him the biggest lottery winner in British history and the UK's 980th-richest person.

Flash photography should to be kept to a minimum, it was advised, to avoid scaring the interviewees. When the screen went back (or in this case a pair of swing doors), the winners were met with a pathetic burst of applause from a roomful of people who had clearly not expected them to look like any other middle-aged couple.

After being bullied into proving their intimacy by the assembled photographers ("Look down here please ... with a kiss, with a kiss!") Ms Laycock quipped: "That's enough for one day." Poor Mr Page. He later admitted that in the confusion that tends to come with winning £50million-plus, he had forgotten all about St Valentine's Day. Perhaps she was still angry with him.

A member of Camelot's press team played the role of Cilla Black and soon the couple, who live near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, were sitting side-by-side and describing the moment they joined the ranks of the super-rich.

"It was Saturday morning," Mr Page explained. "I was sitting at the breakfast table with my daughter – she was about to go off on a ski trip – and we had the news on and they said someone had won in Spain and in Britain. I said perhaps we ought to go and check the ticket."

After logging on to the National Lottery website, he was greeted with a message telling him the astronomical sum he had won. Mr Page said: "I started shaking and couldn't speak. I just kept looking at the screen in front of me but couldn't say a word."

He decided it would be a good time to wake his partner from her weekend lie-in. Her first thought was that "something awful had happened".

"I knew something was up as Nigel never wakes me up on a Saturday morning and he looked so worried," said Ms Laycock. "He said it was important. He had lost his voice. He couldn't speak. I went, 'Oh my God'. So we sat there for about a minute in silence. We just went into the front room ... and started to laugh. It was an amazing feeling."

After receiving confirmation of the win, the couple, who between them have three children from previous relationships, popped down to their local Waitrose with the family and ate bacon rolls in the café as they waited for a lottery representative to arrive.

Mr Page, who runs a property maintenance business, said he would be giving it up to pursue his passion for leaping out of aeroplanes. He is a member of a skydiving club in South Cerney, but plans to set up an indoor skydiving centre with a vertical wind tunnel. He will also be trading in his trusty white van for a Range Rover or BMW.

Not one to beat about the bush, Ms Laycock called her boss at the estate agency on Sunday afternoon to tell him: "You'll never guess what but I've won the lottery. I won't be in on Monday."

The couple said they had decided to "go public" with their win because the amount of money involved was so huge that it would have been very difficult to prevent anyone from finding out.

Their interrogation over, they walked outside into the grounds of the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel to be presented with the traditional giant cheque and to "enjoy" the most awkward glass of champagne they will ever drink. "Give 'er a kiss, Nigel!" pleaded the snappers. "Go on, this time with feeling!"

The best room at the Bath Spa is the penthouse suite, which costs £725 per night including dinner. If they wished, Mr Page and Ms Laycock could afford to stay there every night for 211 years.

After an ugly-looking bench was hastily removed from the background in case it spoiled the crucial photo-opportunity, the newly-rich took their positions on two giant thrones and sipped their Veuve Clicquot before spraying four bottles into the air and posing on a waiting Ferrari.

The festivities drew bemused looks from several of the hotel's paying guests, most of whom were packing up and clearing off after their Valentine's weekends.

"If I won all that cash, I'd be gone straight out of England tomorrow," was one taxi driver's verdict. After a day like yesterday, Britain's latest multimillionaires may yet heed his advice.