Bus driver who won £10 million on lottery had to quit partying before he died
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A bus driver who won £10 million on the lottery had to quit partying before he died, having received 'doctors' orders' to turn his life around.
Peter Lavery was earning £200 a week as a bus driver when he landed an incredible £10.2 million jackpot in May 1996.
Our Lives: The Lottery Millionaire and the Spirit of Belfast sees Lavery look back on the day that changed his life forever, while also following him as he converts the Titanic Pumphouse in Belfast into a whisky distillery – even though he doesn’t drink himself these days.
“When you buy a lottery ticket, you dream of having success, but you never think it’ll ever come,” he says.
“You wake up the next morning and you’re still dreaming, but there’s reality.”
Lavery, now 61, admitted he enjoyed a life of excess after his huge win, splurging on a £300,000 house, luxury cars and first class flights.
He also became something of a ‘party animal’, with friend Diane Poole recalling: “Peter in those days was eating, drinking, partying. I wouldn’t think Peter slept an awful lot in those days.
“But your health can’t take that, and Peter realised at one stage in his life that if he didn’t stop drinking he wasn’t going to be around.”
The lifestyle soon caught up with him, and eventually Lavery decided he had to make a change.
He explains in the documentary: “Doctors’ orders, I had to stop drinking or I wouldn’t be here today. I would be up in smoke in Roselawn [a cemetery in Belfast].”
It was just before his 40th birthday that Lavery’s health reached a low point, when he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes – with doctors telling him he had to quit his partying ways.
East Belfast DUP councillor Sammy Douglas, who knew Lavery when he won the jackpot, also remembers the shift well.
“I knew Peter well,” he says.
“He was a party animal and loved socialising. For him to win £10.2m overnight, it was quite easy to expand the partying, which he did.
“It came to a point where he realised he just couldn’t go on like that because it was definitely going to damage his health.”
Lavery eventually returned to work, investing in commercial property and supporting community groups in Belfast, where he’s from.
Now he’s hoping to bring whisky distilling back to his hometown – the first in the city for almost 90 years – having set up shop at the pumphouse of the Thompson Graving Dock, the spot where the Titanic and her sister ships were completed.
“It’s been a labour of love and near put my head away, but it’s worth it,” he adds.
Watch Our Lives: The Lottery Millionaire and the Spirit of Belfast on BBC One tonight at 9pm.