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Haverhill couple win £148m

Christmas time?
Christmas time?

An editorial discussion the Euro millions jackpot, written by SOS Children CEO, who lives a few miles from Haverhill in Suffolk and did not win!.

Editorial by Andrew Cates, CEO of SOS Children

Well, I do not need to check my Euro lottery ticket, bought at Tesco's in Haverhill last week, because a couple living very close to me has just won £148m in the Euro millions lottery. I do not know who they are yet or whether I know them but anyway I am delighted for them, and there are plenty of things which I am sure they will achieve for themselves and their community with the money. Of course, there are challenges ahead for them and I hope at the end of it they come out as better happier people as well as richer ones. I was taught as a child that no one likes rich people, and I am concerned about their decision to go public.

Let me suggest that a well adjusted person with a network of friends might find the relationships they have to be the most valuable thing in their lives. It may be possible to accommodate say a £1m quietly into your life without uprooting it entirely but after you have paid off the mortgage, retired early and enjoyed a holiday you might struggle to spend the rest. Of course, you could make all your friends more comfortable by playing a Father Christmas role. Again though, this may be surprisingly difficult to do whilst maintaining your relationships. Your children might be happy taking your money but other real friends might not be and others may take exception to exactly who gets what. How attractive is it to become inactive and waited upon? And how likely that someone who wants money off you will end up complaining publically.

I think many reasonable people would decide to throw away a lottery ticket and move on. After 180 days the £148m would be passed on to "good causes". You would need to think about that though. Although many people think the national lottery is to raise money for charities, these days very little goes to proper charities and most of the "good causes" basically amount to tax, meeting targets set by ministers.

The trouble is that £148m is too much money; even if you have a big family and like driving expensive cars £5m would cover all the reasonable aspirations of a rich life and spending more than that might corrupt you. It would be easy to get "giving fatigue" and to be honest dealing with charity fundraisers may not be the best use for the rest of your life. You cannot please everybody with any amount of money but pleasing everybody seems like the only perk of a huge sum. So what might they have done? Quietly claim the money from Camelot and then immediately give almost all of it (say £138m) to perhaps two large charities whose aims they support and whose work they respect. They could choose charities which manage their own projects (rather than hand the money on to someone else out of sight) with a sufficient organisation to be able to manage such a sum (otherwise they would turn them unwittingly into a substitute Father Christmas, with the charity next faced with the problem of how to give it away). They are probably wise enough to avoid campaigning charities and concentrate on ones which actually make a difference. My choices would be Sustrans (building cycleways) and SOS Children (orphans, of course); if they wanted to give it to help famine Orphans or other children alone they would need to arrange for it to be spent it over 5 or 10 years (caring for the children as they grew to independence). Then they could make a few changes to their own life with the balance of the money and give away a little to people who would be happy with it. 

It would be bold and brave to have so much and pass it on.