Neil Leighton from Hereford is 24 years old and a part-time general manager but a full-time fan of trains who recently discovered that he had accidentally won £1 million on the National Lottery's ‘Cash Bolt Christmas Millionaire', which is an Instant Win Game.
Neil's love of trains had created a dream held by many rail enthusiasts, that of owning a steam engine, however, Neil isn't jumping into anything too quickly since becoming a millionaire, although he does feel that trains will certainly be a strong feature in his future.
“If someone had told me two weeks ago, I would be in a position to own a steam train I'd have laughed, but then if someone had told me I'd be a millionaire I'd also have laughed – just goes to show, magic can happen!”
“Ever since my grandad took me to see my first steam train when I was three, I have been fascinated. It started with Thomas the Tank Engine and, to be honest, I never grew out of it. Now, if I'm not visiting a railway, I'm busy writing and filming my own take on Thomas the Tank Engine storylines which I share online, or collaborating with Thomas fans around the world on future projects. So, top of the list is buying my home, where I can have a train room, an entire space dedicated to trains, and another room for filming and editing my Thomas content.”
“And maybe one day, if I'm wise with this win, I'll swap the train room for my very own steam engine.”
Neil discovered he was a lucky winner whilst catching up with friends and fellow Thomas the Tank Engine fans during a group call.
Neil went on to say:
“I was in my man cave, otherwise known as the shed in the garden, having a very chilled evening, enjoying a drink and chatting to my friends in the UK and the States. Having downloaded the National Lottery app just two days previously, I was also aimlessly playing the Cash Bolt Christmas Millionaire game on my phone. It wasn't until all the spins had completed that I even looked at the screen where I saw a message ‘Congratulations You've Won £1M'. At which point I said to my friends ‘I've won a million' and left the chat.”
Neil immediately tried to contact The National Lottery in order to confirm the win, however, phone lines were closed as it was late. He then returned to inform his friends that he thought he had won The National Lottery by accident.
“They were so happy for me, although there was plenty of joking that only I could have won £1M by accident! We stayed up into the early hours discussing the crazy turn of events and having a little browse on the internet looking at houses and holidays I could now afford.”
“I didn't tell my family the news until I was able to confirm the win for definite the following day. I walked into the house and my mum and dad both jokingly said I looked far too happy, what had I been buying? When I told them I'd bought something, a National Lottery Instant Win Game, and I'd won £1M, Mum screamed, used some colourful language and then was convinced it was a scam.”
Neil has revealed that, alongside buying his own home, he will also be treating his family in the run-up to Christmas and a holiday with his friends in 2024.
“There are a few ‘once in a lifetime' experiences I'm thinking of for my family, and I'm also aiming to travel a bit too. I'm currently tempted by Canada, it's just crazy to think that I can do that now without saving for years. The same goes for driving lessons. I've always put it off due to the cost, but now I can finally get behind the wheel, and once passed, actually buy a car.”
“I'm not giving up work, I think for now I will continue to enjoy my job, keep making my films and mull over the exciting next steps.”
Cash Bolt Christmas Millionaire is available to play via the National Lottery app and gives players a 1 in 2.69 chance of winning a price. Each game costs £5 with prizes ranging from £5 to £1 million!
Each week, National Lottery players raise £30 million, which the National Lottery uses to fund projects across the country and has so far supported more than 670,000 grants such as The Talyllyn Railway and The Stockton and Darlington Railway alongside raising over £47 billion for good causes.