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It could be you! Meet the National Lottery man who makes new millionaires

By Mark Andrews | Features | Published:

West Bromwich, Cradley Heath, Halesowen, Smethwick and Birmingham were this week named among the luckiest parts of the UK for National Lottery winners.

Andy Carter, senior winners' adviser to the National Lottery, surveys Britain's luckiest postal area from the terrace of the Rotunda

Does Andy Carter have the best job in Britain? Well it certainly beats being a bailiff or a traffic warden.

He is the man nobody turns away when he comes knocking on their door, and people are more than happy when he asks to check their ticket.

The champagne lifestyle is all in a day's work.

In his 13 years as senior winners' advisers with the National Lottery, Andy has distributed almost £2 billion to lucky winners.

Suitcase always packed waiting for his next assignment, he never goes out without a bottle of bubbly, a box of tissues and a pack of paracetamol in case the emotion gets too much for them.

"I will typically visit 150 winners a year," says the 46-year-old, who previously worked in the human resources department at the BBC.

It is 25 years this month since Noel Edmonds presented the first National Lottery draw.

Noel Edmonds at the launch of the National Lottery in 1994

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Since then the draw has created 5,500 millionaires across the UK and awarded £71 billion in prize money.

Surveying the view from the balcony of the penthouse suite at Birmingham's famous Rotunda, Andy could potentially point out 168 of these millionaires.

The B postcode area – which includes West Bromwich, Cradley Heath, Halesowen, Smethwick and Bromsgrove is officially the luckiest part of the UK, creating on average one new millionaire every two months.

The area has also seen 1,277 winners of £50,000 or more – the equivalent of one almost every week.

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Andy is one of seven advisers who look after the winners at the life-changing moment in their lives. In the early days winners would be invited to Camelot's regional headquarters in Cardiff, but today Andy visits them in their homes.

"I much prefer seeing them in their homes, you get to see their circumstances and they may have their friends and family around them," he says.

He says winners fall into two categories: "We’ve had winners who can’t talk, and then you have people who literally jump up and down."

Surprisingly, the amount of money has little impact on how they react.

Andy Carter, senior winners' adviser to the National Lottery, surveys Britain's luckiest postal area from the terrace of the Rotunda

"Whether they win £50,000, £1 million or £50 million, the response to the news is the same.

"If somebody wins £50,000, it can change their life. If it is somebody who hasn't got transport, they can go out and buy a car, or it might be somebody who has health issues can take out private health care."

Seeing your life change so drastically can be an emotional experience, and Andy remembers the first time he shared in somebody's good news.

"Because it was my first, I think I was more nervous than they were," he says. "I think they were what we could call the jump-up-and-downers. They were like most of the people we deal with, working hard to pay the bills."

He says his most memorable was a £170 million winner, although he is not allowed to disclose any details about that.

While Andy is always guaranteed a warm reception, there are times when he has to keep a low profile.

"Sometimes you get people who say 'are you going to trun up in a car with National Lottery on the side', but we will always be discreet.

"Winners’ advisers turn up to houses and are told to pretend to be the insurance man, whereas at others there is a full scale party going on. There is no normal on how you should react.

"Other people ask 'can I afford to buy that?', people want to ask for permission, and we have to tell them it's their money."

The one piece of advice he extends to all big winners is they should book a holiday to allow themselves time to adjust.

"If you like to sit on the beach, you should go and sit on the beach, if you like rock climbing, you should go and do that," he says.

"It's just about taking a few days to get away from it all, to take time out and reflect on how their lives are going to change."

Hold tight, you’re best placed to be lucky on the Lottery

We’re in luck – the West Midlands is officially the best place to live if you are looking to win the National Lottery jackpot.

A staggering 5,500 millionaires have been made since the lottery launched in 1994, according to the statistics. And of those 168 are from the Birmingham postcode.

While that may still be a small proportion, it officially swings it for the West Midlands as the luckiest region.

There have been many instant millionaires created in our region since the lottery was launched.

In the early days, Tipton was seen as one of the luckiest areas, with a national newspaper even offering a weekend mini-break in the town in an attempt to hit the jackpot.

The town’s Holness family seemed particularly lucky, with three family members winning big in the first few months of 1995.

Alwin Holness won a £2.7 million share of the £11 million jackpot his workplace syndicate scooped.

Days later, his cousin Kevin Holness was one of a group of 15 workers at the BTS Monarch Tyre company in Tipton who won £2.4 million.

Later that month another un-named relative scooped £2,000 on a lottery scratchcard.

Lucky lottery player Paul Harrington celebrates a double win with girlfriend Julie

More recently, lucky Wolves season ticket holder Paul Harrington celebrated after netting £300,000 on his second scratchcard win inside a week.

While the West Midlands takes the top spot for players banking a seven-figure sum, some 133 players with a Belfast postcode have scooped a million each.

Lottery luck also lives in Glasgow, which takes third place with 125 millionaires made.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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