The single flake of snow that brought a white Christmas windfall

CA single flake of snow falling on the London Weather Centre dealt a blow to the bookies who were already reeling from shelling out pounds 92,000 to punters who had laid money on the Spice Girls topping the Yuletide charts.

The arrival of the solitary flake on a rooftop in London's Clerkenwell was all that was needed to mark yesterday as Britain's first white Christmas in 20 years. Both Ladbrokes and William Hill will today start paying out around pounds 100,000 to thousands of punters cashing in on the windfall. The only question is whether the winners realise their good fortune.

"I hope they won't be throwing their slips away," said Simon Clare, a spokesman for Ladbrokes. "They'll be looking out of their window and thinking: `No way', when in fact they will be clutching what could be a fairly valuable Christmas bonus.

"There's not a sign of snow on the ground, but it definitely is a white Christmas. People have been asking: `Does it have to stick?' `Does it have to be in certain places?' But the fact is that at least one flake of snow on the London Weather Centre roof equals a white Christmas. By all accounts there wasn't much more."

It is only the third time that Ladbrokes has lost the seasonal flutter since it started the "fun Christmas bet" in 1964. And this year it took more money for the bet than in any previous year. The odds started at 12-1 last January, fell to 10-1 at the beginning of December and then to 2-1 on Christmas Eve.

Graham Sharpe, spokesman for William Hill, described the snow fall and Spice Girls' No 1 as a: "double whammy". The biggest winner in the capital was James Sexton, a public relations consultant who gave 1,300 clients Christmas presents of a pounds 1 snow wager.

The day was marked by record supermarket spending, British Telecom's busiest day of the year - and Heathrow's quietest.

In Northern Ireland, Christmas revellers set a world record for a single day's trading by Marks & Spencer store. More than 30,000 people piled into M&S at Sprucefield, outside Lisburn, Co Antrim, on Monday, spending almost pounds 1m.

The bumper total marks the largest food takings for any M&S on a single day anywhere in its world-wide chain. Andrew Keating, manager of the store, said people started queuing before 7am, when the store opened, and were still arriving when it closed - 15 hours later.

Christmas Day was BT's busiest day of the year - and yesterday's dialling looked set to beat last year's total of nine million hours' worth of calls around the world, and in particular to Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the Caribbean.

BT was expecting an increase of 10 per cent on the 47,229,687 calls made last year on the 25th when 33 million calls were local, 13 million regional and just over a million international. The average call length was 12 minutes, compared to the usual 2-to-5 minutes of a working day.

Meanwhile, Heathrow airport was experiencing its quietest day of the year. Staff enjoyed a break as a mere 41,000 passengers passed through the arrival and departure gates.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes