'Punching Above Weight' Lottery Winner Says His Autistic Children's Lives Have Been Transformed
A man who won a 'Punching Above Your Weight' competition and £1 million ($1,287,117) on a scratchcard four years later says his winnings have transformed the lives of his autistic children.
Darren Donaghey, from Newcastle, UK, won a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon with his wife Kate in 2014 after he was crowned the champion of Metro Radio's 'Punching Above Your Weight' contest.
But as if winning a luxury holiday for punching above his weight wasn't fortuitous enough, the 34-year-old then went on to win £1 million on a scratchcard last September.
A year on, and Mr Donaghey says the money has helped to transform the lives of his and Kate's seven-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, both of whom are severely autistic.
The family have upped sticks from their £50,000 ($64,355) council house in Walker and now reside six miles away in a £460,000 (£592,072) five-bedroom detached house in Gosforth. Mr Donaghey said having more space was their 'biggest wish' for their children.
He has also been able to quit his job at a call centre, meaning he gets to spend more time with them.
According to The Mirror, he said: "One of the first things I thought was, 'I'm going to be able to give up work, I can help Kate'.
"I had a sabbatical to give myself time to think about it, then gave up. Hopefully I'll never have to go back to 9-5.
"It makes such a difference to their [the children's] lives."
Mrs Donaghey - who used to be a hairdresser - said they had erred on the side of caution with their spending, with the security of their family the number one priority.
She said: "If anything, we have almost been too cautious. Apart from the house, we've not really treated ourselves. We wanted to look after our family and friends.
"That's the best feeling. But we knew we had to make long-term plans for the children.
"We got financial advice, and knew we had to be careful. They may not be independent, so there'll have to be support."
Mr Donaghey added: "You don't want to waste it. We have had to focus on the long term, that's why we have not bought a flash car."
Speaking after he was crowned the winner of the 'Punching Above Your Weight' contest in 2014, he said the free honeymoon was just deserts for the years of funny looks from strangers.
He said: "It's not unusual to be out together and other guys to innocently start chatting Kate up, thinking that I couldn't possibly be with her.
"Even when we are out shopping at Asda I get these funny looks from blokes and I know what they are thinking.
"Having put up with this for years, I knew we had a decent chance of winning."
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