A WEEK ago single mother Julie Styles was facing mounting money worries - today she is celebrating winning £1.6 million on the lottery.
The 46-year-old, from Stanford-Le-Hope, Essex, hit the jackpot on April 14 but suffered a week of sleepless nights before realising her good luck.
At a press conference today, she said: "I was in absolute shock. Like many people, money is really tight and I had just increased my hours at work to try to make ends meet."
At first a shop assistant told her she had won £5,000 but then the true extent of her good fortune emerged.
"When I thought I'd won £5,000, I was so shocked and delighted I simply took the ticket and walked out without paying for my shopping," the mother-of-two, who works in Debenhams, said.
"My sister works at the Co-Op and the assistant manager rang her to say I hadn't paid for my shopping.
"She immediately thought it was because my card had been declined but the manager explained that I'd left in shock.
"In the end it was my sister who worked out how much I'd won - she called me to tell me I'd actually won £1.6 million. I was gobsmacked."
Ms Styles will buy her dream car, an Audi TT, and is hoping to enjoy a holiday in the Caribbean - but the family will still enjoy a break at Butlins that they booked earlier in the year.
She also plans to provide for her children Conor, 18, and Kelsie, 16, and help family members pay off their mortgages.
Although she will cut back her hours in the womenswear department at Lakeside Debenhams, she will carry on working.
Ms Styles said: "I like the people there and would miss them. But I am looking forward to not working on Saturdays any more."
She added: "My ex-husband congratulated me and said 'Well done, you've set the kids up for life'.
"We've got a family trip to Butlins already booked for November but we might also have a nice holiday abroad before then.
"Other than that, I'll just enjoy the security of having the money in the bank."
She has used the same numbers - 1, 5, 15, 22, 26 and 42 - ever since the lottery began. They are based on birthdays and the year of her mother's birth.
Ms Styles had considered changing her numbers but decided to stick with them when she bought her latest ticket on Friday April 13.
She said: "I don't consider myself a lucky person and I didn't think Friday the 13th was a good omen.
"I've had to work hard to keep a roof over our heads and there's not been much luck so far but I've always believed you've got to be in it to win it."
She bought her lottery ticket at Corringham Grocers on Woodbrooke Way, Corringham, and has already bought a ticket for the next draw.
"I'm definitely going to carry on playing the lottery," she said.