Frances and Patrick Connelly won more than $145 million (£115) million in the lottery in 2019 and the self-confessed charity addicts say they’ve already given away half of it. Frances is a former social worker and teacher. She said winning the EuroMillions 2019 jackpot gave her all kinds of ideas on how to help people so after helping friends and family-the couple immediately set up two professional charities.
One is named after Frances’ late mother Kathleen Graham in her native Northern Ireland and the other is PFC Trust which supports organizations that support the elderly, refugees and others in her hometown. Connelly has been helping people since childhood. She volunteered with St. John’s Ambulance as a child and set up an AIDS helpline while a student in Belfast. She runs several community groups that do a variety of work—from helping refugees to providing seniors with tablets so they can video call their families.
In an interview, Frances said “Helping people… it just gives you a buzz. I’m addicted to it now.” Patty said when they won the couple sat down and he told Frances to go ahead and make a list of her charity ideas. In terms of personal treats, they did buy a new house—a six-bedroom home in Durham with seven acres of land. Frances said that most of the big money ideas have already been given out and that she has a yearly charity budget for the allocation.
She said she wasn’t overwhelmed with the large winnings, but rather recalled all those conversations she had had throughout her life about what would you do if you won the lottery so the hierarchy of helping was well established. She said she balks at the idea of spending money on luxuries like yachts, saying reports of people spending $25,000 on a bottle of champagne make her think the money could have helped someone buy a house.
The Connolly’s agree that winning a huge amount of money might change a person’s life but it does not alter their personality. Frances said “If I had any advice for a winner… I’d say money liberates you to be the person that you want to be. If you’re stupid before you get it, you’re going to be stupid afterwards.”