DCSIMG

Giving is the best bit of Christmas

Festive treat: Ray and Barbara Wragg presented a Christmas hamper to Park Hill Lodge, Maltby.                PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS

Festive treat: Ray and Barbara Wragg presented a Christmas hamper to Park Hill Lodge, Maltby. PICTURE: STUART HASTINGS

  • by Martin Smith
 

EVERY day is Christmas Day for the Wraggs. They won £7.6 million on the lottery in January 2000. They’ve been on the cruises, bought the posh house and helped their families.

But that’s not why it’s the season to be jolly 365 days a year.

Legendarily generous in their home city, people come up to them in the street every day to say hello or thank you for their help.

Millions of pounds have gone from the Wraggs to hundreds of charities including the Children’s Hospital, Weston Park Teenage Cancer Care, Bents Green School, Burngreave School, the Cathedral Archer Project, Monte Cassino veterans, Child Line and a young lad who had his bike stolen.

This is the real Mr and Mrs Christmas, all year round.

“You know that feeling you get when you see someone’s face light up as you give them their Christmas present?” asks lifelong Sheffield United fan Ray, 75 next month. “That’s how we feel every day of the year.”

“In January it will be 13 years since we won and we’ve enjoyed every moment. It’s been nice to do what we have done and we have made a lot of people happy.”

The Wraggs and their three children lived in Ormond Road, Jordanthorpe - bought for £9,815 from the council in 1988 - when lottery luck touched their lives.

A gem of a couple, Ray and Barbara radiate Sheffield common sense and a modest, working class pride in their values and in what they have done with their money. And so they should.

“We have no regrets whatsoever, not for one minute,” said Barbara, aged 72, a grandmother of six and the proud owner of a caravan in Mablethorpe.

“I know you enter the lottery to win but can anybody justify having £7.6 million in the bank gathering interest? That night when we won we expected to get a million and we’d pay off the kids’ mortgages, have some to spend and be comfortable and that would be it.

“But when it came up with £7.6 million we knew we had to deal with it properly. I think as an older couple we were sensible enough to do it the right way.

“What we have left is invested for us and although we can’t spend big sums we live comfortably. Ray has had to stop me or I would have given it all away!”

Ray, a former roofing contracts supervisor, is a wiry, busy man with energy and enthusiasm.

He’s the kind of neighbour we all wish we had, the old-fashioned, salt of the earth sort with a tidy garden and a helping hand with the car if you need one.

He’s got his scrapbook out and the kettle on before you take your coat off. No-one, but no-one, could deserve the good fortune of a lottery win more than these two.

And no couple could behave less like the spend, spend, spend stereotyped jackpot winners that end up in the tabloids. Barbara still wears the watch Ray bought her before the jackpot landed - £49.50 (half price) from Brookes and Bentley via an ad in the News Of The World magazine.

She liked it but thought it was ‘too blingy’ but Ray bought it for her anyway.

And it still fools celebrities.

“We met Esther Rantzen at a Childline charity event and she was telling me how much she liked my outfit and that it even matched the decor of the ballroom,” laughs former Hallamshire Hospital nurse Barbara.

“And, she said, your watch looks absolutely gorgeous.”

“Yes I said, it was £49.50 out of the News Of The World!”

Everyone has their lottery fantasy moments during a week, on the loo, driving home or waiting at the bus stop. But if we ever need a reminder that there’s more to life than spending money, Ray and Barbara Wragg are it.

“People ask us: ‘Has the money made you happy?’” said Ray.

“I say yes but we were happy before we won it, we’re still happy and we’ve been able to help lots of people. What could be better?”

Price of success

FOR 13 years they have been making a difference in their home city, helping the sick and saving lives with their astounding generosity.

But there can be a downside to the big lottery win.

“We still get begging letters to this day,” said Ray Wragg.

“We get them all the time and we usually throw them away but some are very touching.

“We did have one man come to the house though. Last August he came kocking at the door and said he needed £150,000 now and £45,000 later to help with some debts he had. He actually came back and said: ‘Have you got that money yet, “I had to get the police involved.”

Sound advice for future winners

THE Wraggs have been ambassadors for Camelot and the National Lottery since their win in 2000.

That means talking to new winners, giving advice and going to functions to represent Camelot - and meet a few celebrities.

“We stayed at the Clivedon Hotel where the Christine Keeler scandal went off in the 1960s,” said Ray.

“Naomi Campbell had stayed in the room before us. We met Sarah Ferguson and we get a card from the family at Christmas signed by Andrew, Sarah, Beatrice and Eugenie.

Then there was that time with Richard Branson...

“We were at a function once and I told Richard Branson that I would go up in a balloon with him any day!” said Barbara.

The couple are available to help lottery winners who sometimes go so spectacularly off the rails after a jackpot win.

“They call us Momma and Poppa Lotto at Camelot,” said Barbara.

“We are ambassadors for Camelot and we give advice to winners if they need it and we get invited to the parties.

“I think they tell winners that there can be more to winning than spending money and they use us as an example.”

 

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