How Pounds 1/2 M Lotto Win Changed My Life. . . Yet Didn't; It's Ten Years since the National Lottery Was Launched. `It Could Be You, ' They Said. David Powell Hears How It Was for Doris Lewis

Article excerpt

Byline: David Powell

DORIS Lewis had switched off the telly on the Wednesday night her lottery numbers came up because the football was on.

It was only an hour later that she checked Teletext and the penny, so to speak, dropped. Big time.

``I won pounds 491, 003, '' she exclaims slowly with a mixture of disbelief and glee even now, seven years on.

She knows the exact amount (well, you would, wouldn't you?) and fishes out a replica of her fading but triumphant ticket from a transparent, A4 sleeve she keeps with newspaper cuttings and a letter from Camelot.

The drama unfolded in the 72-year-old's three-bedroomed, pebble-dashed semi in Bangor in May 1997.

Silver-haired grandmother Doris, a retired WH Smith administration manager in Bangor, bought the ticket from Alan Woodward's store in the town but cannot remember why she chose the numbers 2, 8, 16, 21, 29, 37 and bonus ball 22 except for a string of coincidences around the number 21.

She was born on the 21st, married on the 21st, her first grandson was born on the 21st and her daughter passed her driving test on the 21st.

Doris remembers: ``I jotted the numbers down and went to check my ticket. I thought I was seeing things.

I couldn't believe it. I phoned my son Richard and he said `Don't act stupid woman. Don't wind me up. ' `` But she got her lodger and work mate Michael to confirm the staggering news and her son told Michael to keep the ticket safe.

In a flurry of phone calls, Doris then rang her daughter in Penmaenmawr who was thrilled but who couldn't drive to Bangor because she had had a drink.

Now Doris realises she should have suggested she come by taxi -- a modest pounds 15, and her mum would have paid -- but Doris wasn't thinking clearly because her good fortune hadn't sunk in. Camelot rang back at 10. 30pm to confirm she was one of seven winners who had scooped about pounds 3. 5m between them.

Delighted relatives and friends flocked to her happy home for an impromptu party fuelled by a flagon of champagne donated by a publican friend of Doris for when her son Richard and wife Sian had a baby. Doris could afford another one now when that day came!

Bubbling with excitement, she later shared her joy at a press conference in Llandudno's Imperial Hotel and posed for photos on the pebbly beach.

And so began a whirlwind of publicity as she hobnobbed with other lottery winners alongside TV presenter and Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan in the BBC headquarters in London, actor Bradley Walsh (Mike Baldwin's nephew Danny in Coronation Street) in St David's Hall, Cardiff, and magician Paul Daniels on a cruiseship. Now a new three-piece suite, cooker, Creda kitchen, Vauxhall Astra, three cruises and a handful of other holidays later, she reflects on her good fortune.

``When they told me the amount, I couldn't believe. . . you can't begin to think. But my first thought was half of it was going to the kids, between the children and grandchildren.

``It was nice but it was still a frightening amount. The only thing was I wish my husband Idris had been alive to have enjoyed it. We had both worked hard and I was in WH Smith's for 37 years. ''

Idris, who worked for Provident in the credit department, died of cancer in 1992, five years before the win.

Doris and Idris had three childrenAvril, 49, an assistant matron, Wendy, 44, a carer, and Richard, 38, a firefighter. …