Mark Andrews (right) getting presented with his £1 million cheque held by Andy Carter at Weston Park.
Reporter Mark Andrews turned into a millionaire lottery winner for a day to see what the experience was like, and he got a real surprise. It started when the Express And Star writer was handed a oversize presentation board made out to 'Lucky Me.'
He said, "The champagne is flowing, the butler is on standby and I’ve finally got my hands on the big cheque."
Mark wanted to change his name by deed poll to match the title, but was told it couldn't be done.
Andy Carter is the senior winners advisor for the UK National Lottery.
So what does it feel like to be a millionaire? Most people will at some time have imagined winning the lottery, but what is the experience actually like?
Embarrassing is probably the first word that springs to mind, says Mark. Passers-by gather, trying to see what all the fuss is about as cameras click and he posed with a cheque for £1 million.
Andy Carter was on hand to fill in a few details. He is a senior winners’ adviser with lottery operator Camelot, one of the so-called “spooks” who discretely sit at the side of every winner.
A jovial man, the 39-year-old’s role is like a cross between James Bond and Father Christmas. His suitcase is always packed, ready for his next assignment. When he telephones winners, he uses a codename.
Weston Park, the Earl of Bradford's ancestral home, is one of the venues where the biggest winners in the Midlands are presented with their prizes.
And while he is happy to be photographed, most of his fellow 'spooks' live in a world of shadowy anonymity.
"We've had winners who can't talk, and then you have people who literally jump up and down,” says Andy.
When winners call the prize line number on the ticket, a handler takes their details and provides a codename for their dedicated “spook”.
"We guarantee to call back within 24 hours, although it is usually within a couple of hours,” says Andy.
A face-to-face meeting will be set up, and the ticket will be photographed by a hand-held scanner and transmitted to Camelot’s head office in Watford.
After that, a representative from the winner’s chosen bank will be invited to join the meeting. To avoid being pestered by financial services salesmen, winners are normally advised to set up a 'private account,' where even staff at their won branch won’t know about the money.
A list of accredited financial advisers and lawyers is made available. Winners also have to decide whether to go for publicity.
"Most people, if asked beforehand, say they wouldn’t go for publicity, but they change their mind when they actually win,” says Andy.
"Some who take the publicity think ‘let’s get it over with’, and then disappear into the sunset, but others use their fame to promote a charity," he said.
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