£1 million lottery win spells happy Christmas for Indian Queens dad Lee Orchard
THIS time last year the Orchard family were so hard-up that dad Lee received just a can of deodorant and a supermarket jumper for Christmas.
Living in a rented two-bedroom bungalow in St Austell, he and wife Laura were struggling to pay the bills and provide for their children, Riley, 4, and 18-month-old Frankie.
But 2013 is set to be a markedly different experience – thanks to a £1 million lottery scratchcard win.
Instead of a Quorn joint and a few potatoes, the family will be tucking into roast turkey and all the trimmings in their luxurious new four-bedroom home in Indian Queens.
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Gardener Lee said: "A year ago I was working in my parents' garden centre, and Laura had been made redundant. She's a beautician and was hoping to take a course in teaching trainees. But we just didn't have the cash for it. We were so stressed – rarely going out. For Christmas, we had to save up for presents for months, putting away little bits when we could.
"Now we're really looking forward to Christmas. We wanted a proper outdoor display of lights, with blow-up snowmen and all that – something the kids will enjoy. We'll have a huge Christmas tree. Our new house is pretty big, so our families are coming over. We'll have a turkey and drinks, and we can go out with our mates."
Lee, 30, was on his way to work at his parents' garden centre at Black Acre Nurseries in St Columb one Thursday morning in March this year when he decided to stop off at the Co-op store in Roche for some bread and milk.
Using a £5 note from a previous win, he also bought a £1 Million Gold National Lottery Scratchcard … and hit the jackpot.
He said: "I went back to the Co-op shaking, and asked them to check it. The woman said, 'you have to contact Camelot. The prize is too big for us to confirm'. So I did. Then I phoned Laura, and said 'I won on a Scratchcard; £1,000'. She said, 'really?' and I said 'no, not really. It's a million'. I couldn't sleep or eat during the time it took to check the win was legitimate."
Lee said the first thing he wanted to do was move back to Indian Queens, where he grew up.
"I really wanted to move back to the place where all my memories were," he said. "When we bought a four-bedroomed house there a couple of months ago, I cried. My son will be able to go to the same school as I did. That means a lot. For his birthday, I bought him a new bike and some clothes. He was gobsmacked.
"And Laura has started her teaching course. It's lovely to see her doing what she wanted to do. She was always trying to better herself and finally it's possible.
"Christmas is about hope and the future, and now we can look forward to our lives rather than being constantly anxious about them."
An interview with Lee is featured in the December issue of Reader's Digest magazine.