The family have been able to travel the world but they say the money hasn’t changed them as people, it has just given them incredible opportunities
A lucky couple have reflected on how winning the lottery changed their lives 20 years ago.
Mark and Cheryl Brudenell insist that they haven’t become different people, but say they have had incredible opportunities and travelled the world.
They remembered how their children, who they say weren’t fazed by the win, asked for Kappa tracksuits as their first gift.
Mark and Cheryl were at their Grangetown home, Sunderland, waiting for a lift, when their lives changed for ever, Gazette Live reports.
With their sons at their nana’s, they were getting ready to go to the Parklands pub in Normanby with friends, only half watching the television.
On this particular night – February 22, 1997 – Mark and Cheryl’s six numbers came up.
They didn’t know it then, but the couple were one of eight who matched all six numbers and won a share of the jackpot, a £916,000 haul.
Speaking of what went through their minds, Mark said: “Disbelief. We kept checking it on Teletext. That sounds daft now but you couldn’t just get it on your phone.
“To be honest, I’m not sure what we felt. The first thing we did was ring my mam, she didn’t believe us.
“We went round there, and stopped off at Heagney’s for a load of drinks.”
But the night could have turned out differently.
Had their friends picked them up earlier – they were running late – Mark and Cheryl would have missed the draw on television.
At the time, the Parklands would write the winning numbers on a board on the bar for those who got out for a drink early.
“I played the same numbers every week, and everyone knew them. I’d have definitely thought they were winding me up,” he said.
Mark, then 32, and Cheryl, then 30, also rang Camelot, the company who ran the lottery, that night and arranged to go to head office in Sunderland the next day.
In the meantime, Mark had to get out of a late shift at Dennis Dixon, where he drove tankers.
Then, to bed, with the winning ticket safely tucked under their pillow.
Mark and Cheryl met as teenagers at Grangetown Boys Club and were married young.
Their eldest son Karl, 13 at the time of the win, went to St Peters’ – Mark’s old school – and Paul, 11, was still at primary school.
They were settled and had good friends – something Mark and Cheryl wanted to maintain after their win.
“Nothing changed really,” says Cheryl, now 50, at the couple’s Ingleby Barwick home.
“I think if money changes you you’re maybe a bit of a superficial person.
“I remember we got a few whispers from people, but you know they were just curious and it was nothing bad. Our friends and family were all the same with us.
“It must have been exciting for the lads. I remember they were just like kids would be like. They asked ‘mam can we get a Kappa tracksuit’.
“The first thing we did was go straight to Teesside Park, and got the kids a load of clothes that they wanted.”
“And a Jaguar,” Mark added. “I’d always wanted a Jaguar.”
A two week dream holiday to Jamaica followed before the family packed up and moved to Ingleby Barwick.
Karl and Paul – who now live a stone’s throw away in Ingleby – stayed at school in South Bank though.
“The lads have been great with it. It hasn’t fazed them, and people who don’t know us have said that,” the couple said.
Mark, Cheryl, Paul and Karl travelled up to Sunderland the day after the draw, had their ticket checked, and decided to go public with their win.
“We got sent down to Crathorne Hall for the press conference,” said Mark.
“I was supposed to be going down to Southampton that day for work.
“They thought I was winding them up. But Dennis Dixon, who was a fantastic boss, rang me and wished me luck and said ‘the job is here for you if you want to come back to it’ which was fantastic.”
That night, they sat on a bed in the hotel with “a big plate of sandwiches” and watched themselves on Tyne Tees news.
“It was nerve-wracking,” remembers Mark, now 52.
“You could hear all the cameras clicking and see everyone scribbling in their books.
“But I loved it me. I just go with the flow.”
The pair gave up their jobs – Cheryl had worked at Peter’s bakers in Redcar – and for a few years, Mark got well acquainted with the golf course, playing at Wynyard and meeting new mates.
They’ve managed to travel the world, and after five years Mark set up his own double glazing company, Almark Ltd, which specialises in building orangeries.
“The money I don’t think has changed us, but it has given us an incredible opportunity,” continues Mark.
“We went to Hawaii for our 25th wedding anniversary, I always wanted to do something big for the Millennium so we went to the Maldives, 99% of that we wouldn’t have been able to do without the win. And the business as well.
“Nowadays, you’d need to win £5m to have the same impact I think.”
But their favourite moment came last year.
Almark had helped out Zoe’s Place – the much-loved baby hospice – by fitting windows at its Normanby base.
Mark and Cheryl – now grandparents to Alex, three, Ben, two, and Evelyn, one – were asked to switch on their Christmas lights.
“I was so humbled,” continued Mark.
“I can honestly say it was such an honour, it was the best thing that’s happened to me in all those years.”