survivor of Nazi camp in record £2.3m pools win

A man with a tragic past can now enjoy `a little luxury'. Mary Braid reports
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The Independent Online
On Monday night, Andy Paliunovas, 73, Lithuanian-born bachelor and survivor of a Nazi labour camp, made his first trip to London, with just his toothbrush for luggage.

Yesterday, the retired handyman who settled in Britain after the war was billed by Littlewoods Pools as the ultimate "rags-to-riches" story when he became its largest single winner, scooping £2.3m.

Not even Gloria Hunniford, the razzmatazz, or millionaire status seemed to faze Mr Paliunovas, who has lived frugally in Gloucester since he lost touch with his mother, four sisters and three brothers after being deported from Lithuania.

Mr Paliunovas, who came to Britain as a displaced person in 1948, patiently smiled his way through two hours of camera flashes and media questioning. Speaking through an interpreter, he said he might give up a "grace-and-favour flat" provided by the security company for which he still works part-time and move to "a bungalow in Gloucester and a little garden with some flowers".

He added: "I like dogs, so perhaps I would have a little dog and look forward to a little luxury for the rest of my life."

Mr Paliunovas said he had never been on holiday or in an aircraft but hinted that would soon change. "I hear Jamaica's nice," he said. Willy, his friend of 40 years, did the talking for him until he died a few months ago. Friends described them as a "double act".

Yesterday another friend, Bernie Polson, a colleague, and his son Kim, accompanied the 80th pools millionaire to the presentation.

"Andy lost Willy a few months ago so now we make sure he's all right," said Mr Polson. "He asked us to share his day in London with him and we're honoured he thinks that much of us." It remains to be seen whether Mr Paliunovas will give up part-time workand a routine that sees him rise at 4.30am every day. "I like to help them," he confided. " I'm a sort of handyman and they let me do little things round the offices."

A Littlewoods spokesman said: "He had a very hard and traumatic life and now he is going to have a little luxury. I think he is going to enjoy himself."

He was concerned that such a large amount of money could leave Mr Paliunovas "vulnerable", but added: "Our advisory and after-care policy will look after him. He deserves to enjoy his new wealth."