Local shopkeeper’s honesty was just the ticket, says lucky €350,000 Lotto winner
IT was the one that almost got away . . . twice. Lotto winner Dermot Finglas finally emerged from National Lottery headquarters yesterday clutching a cheque worth €350,000.
But the 35-year-old nearly missed out on his slice of luck when he first left his winning ticket on a shop counter and then a delay caused by the ticket verification process meant he left Lotto HQ empty-handed on Monday.
As he emerged with his prize, his thoughts turned to the man who made it all possible – shopkeeper Tom Heavey – who reunited the absent-minded shopper with his ticket after he left it in a Drogheda shop. Incredible
“The real story here is the incredible honesty of Tom Heavey,” Mr Finglas told a waiting circle of journalists and photographers.
“That’s what is most impressive – not the fact that I won the money.”
Mr Heavey found the ticket in his shop a week ago, after urging an unknown customer not to leave it behind.
He appealed for the mystery shopper to come forward and CCTV footage soon helped identify Mr Finglas as the lucky man.
The out-of-work DJ insisted yesterday that he never doubted that the shopkeeper would stick to his principles, even when issues arose as to the rightful ownership of the ticket – as Mr Heavey had signed the back of it.
“He’s an old friend of my mother and there was no doubt in my mind that he would certainly return the ticket,” said Mr Finglas.
The winner kept his cards close to his chest however, when it came to a cash reward. “He will be rewarded but that’s for me and him to discuss,” he said firmly.
When asked about the rumour that Mr Heavey had his heart set on a camper van worth €40,000, Mr Finglas admitted that he had heard it mentioned. “It wouldn’t be my cup of tea now but if that’s what he wants,” he said.
Mr Heavey insisted last night, however, that he expects no payment for his selfless action.
“My reward was seeing how happy Dermot looked on television getting his cheque. I saw him and he looked a million dollars,” he said.
“And as far as the whole camper van rumour goes, we are indeed interested in buying one ourselves next year, but I feel like I’ve already been rewarded by doing the right thing by Dermot.”
As for the winner himself, he’s off to sit on a beach in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, to ponder his winnings and decide how he’ ll spend them. “I might want to buy a little bar on the beach out there, but I’m going to think about it all for a while before doing anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, another family was celebrating this week, as Longford man Charles Grehan collected a prize cheque for €250,000 from a Lotto draw on May 27.
“It’s magic,” said Mr Grehan yesterday. “I’m looking forward to putting the money towards a new home.”