The Luck of the Irish
The National UK Lottery has created 4,000 millionaires since the first draw in November 1994; 88 of whom live in Northern Ireland. One such winner was Peter Lavery, a Belfast bus driver that went from earning £200 a week to winning about 10 times the pre-tax profits of his employers.
Peter says he’s been lucky all his life. Living in the heart of Belfast, he has escaped bombs and seen other bus drivers hijacked, but has never been victim to tragedy himself. On that fateful night, 33.5 million people played the lotto that Peter won. “It was the luck of the draw!” Peter exclaims.
Despite being £10m richer, Peter went to work the following Monday saying that he enjoyed his work. Being able to drive into the yard, pull up the hand brake and think that’s the end of the day was the comfortable and simple life he enjoyed. Shortly after his win, Peter decided to retire at the ripe age of 34. Peter splashed out on a mock Tudor-style mansion and a selection of cars.
In fact, in the first couple of years, Peter admits spending half a million pounds on cars alone. Yet, the beginning of his new life it wasn’t looking too good. Having retired young, he found himself without purpose and that was the start of a downward spiral. A close friend cautioned him to start doing something with his life again in order to avoid calamity and depression, advice which he heeded. Peter says he now works harder today than he did before 1996.
Peter made two important decisions in the first year after winning. The first was that he wouldn’t allow the money to change him. The second decision was that he was going to make the money work for life. Both in terms of capital and in personal growth through opportunity. He believes that money can’t bring you happiness, rather you need to be happy within yourself first; that money can open doors, solve problems and give you reassurance, but you cannot buy happiness.
One of the opportunities money brought Peter’s way was the chance to discover a hidden business acumen. Peter says that he won £10 million on the lottery but his investment success was ‘like winning again’. Today through property development and the opening of his own whiskey distillery Peter has reportedly tripled his wealth.
He also set up a charity in the name of his late mother, Rita. It was his mother who taught him the importance of charity. After working hard all her life to provide for her children, she always found a way to give to those less fortunate. Peter was already involved as a volunteer in community projects before winning the lotto and his big win gave him the means to make a bigger difference.
In addition, Peter’s win enabled him to travel the world. He has visited Australia, New Zealand and America, more than 100 times, and has been on over 60 cruises in the last 20 years. His advice to future winners? “Keep cool and get good financial advice. You need to know who you can trust.” Once you have that figured out, Peter says: “The world is your oyster.”
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