£10m lottery winner is giving up the buses for early retirement and privacy

 

NOT too many happy stories come out of Belfast a cliche but it's true. Yesterday however, one very happy man, a bus driver, answered questions at a packed press conference about his life, his future plans and his bank balance.

Mr Peter Lavery is over £10 million sterling richer after winning the British Lottery on Saturday night. He has gone from earning less than £200 a week in his job as a bus driver with Citybus Ltd, to winning about 10 times the pre tax profits of his employers.

At the press conference yesterday, Mr Lavery, surrounded by his family, joked and wisecracked about the win and how he planned to spend it. Asked a number of times how he discovered he was the Lottery winner, he insisted he was "blocked" and "half canned" on Saturday night and just couldn't remember.

He does, however, remember getting up yesterday morning and going into work despite being £10 million richer. On his last day in the job, after 10 years with the company, he drove a harbour tour.

"I actually enjoyed work yesterday. It was nice to drive into the yard, pull up the hand brake and think that's the end of the day. Nice to retire at 34, really", said Mr Lavery, who lives in Short Strand in east Belfast.

He revealed that he has used the same lottery numbers, mainly made up of birthdays, since the beginning and would play them again this Saturday.

Mr Lavery will be swapping his bus for a new car and also has plans to buy a new house, according to the press release from the British National Lottery.

However, he took a flippant approach to questions yesterday apart from confirming he will continue with his community work in east Belfast. He has been chairman of his local community centre for the past 12 years. Last May he met President Clinton in Washington as part of the economic conference on the North.

Mr Lavery has a long time girlfriend and the couple were going on holidays yesterday afternoon. He first joked they would go to Bangor for a week but, in a brief moment of seriousness, added the destination was secret and he did not want to answer any more questions from the press.

"I want privacy after this I don't want my family hassled." He added that anyone who sent a begging letter "would get one back".

Afterwards, Mr Lavery went on to the street where one of his old buses, with an open top, was parked with a sign on the front saying "To Paradise".

From the upper deck he posed for photographs and sprayed magnums of champagne as passing cars beeped in congratulations. From the back of the bus, his family told him not fall. "At least not until you make your will."