A local couple have won a £58m lottery jackpot despite the ticket originally being ripped in two by mistake.
Fred and Lesley Higgins, from Laurencekirk, won the Euromillions draw on 10 July.
When Mr Higgins took his ticket to the shop to be checked, the shop assistant initially told him it was not a winner, ripped the ticket in two and threw it away.
Luckily, the machine then told them to contact Camelot, and ticket was quickly retrieved from the bin.
He said: “I handed the ticket over and the young man put it through the machine, telling me it wasn’t a winner. He ripped the ticket in two and threw it into the bin, as they would with all non-winning tickets. But this time, the terminal produced a chitty which said I needed to retain my ticket and call Camelot.
“The retailer immediately grabbed it out of the bin and handed it to me, not realising it was a winner before he discarded it.”
Despite the rip in the ticket all the numbers were still clear, so Mr Higgins took it home to make the call.
On getting home and checking the numbers, Mr Higgins found that they had won a total of £57,975,367.
He said: “The first matched, then the second matched, match, match – we had them all.
“When Lesley woke, I explained we had a winning ticket and what had happened. I showed her the numbers, asked her to check and she misread them, thinking we were £5.7m richer rather than an amazing £57m.
“I felt really calm at that point – I think it was just sinking in – so I then called Camelot and explained what had happened.”
The rip in the ticket made processing the win more complicated however. A security team visited the couple and the store to check what had happened and to look at the CCTV footage.
While the investigation was underway, the couple kept the ticket at their home
Mrs Higgins, who worked as an account manager at the Montrose Port Authority, said: “It was in an envelope, in a filing cabinet, up the stairs. And I had written on the envelope, in red letters, Money Worries Over!
“It was there for a whole week and the only person we told was my daughter.”
Mrs Higgins has now handed in her notice as the couple prepare for their new life as lottery winners.
The couple, who have been married 35 years, have already made their first purchase — a brand new Audi Cabriolet.
Mr Higgins, a retired Audi administrator, said: “We had a really comfortable life before the win but we did have dreams of living abroad. We love Gozo, which is where my niece lives, so we always thought we would get somewhere out there.
“But I have to say since we won, I’ve got my eye on somewhere in France and Lesley seems to be looking at property in Barbados. I think it might be fun to explore a few places before we commit to buying anything.”
He added: “It is our wedding anniversary on 20 August and my birthday a couple of days later, so I think a celebration is in order before we decide what comes next.”
The couple bought and checked their winning ticket at the Scotmid on Laurencekirk High Street.
The assistant who had checked the ticket was Sean Grant. He said he had initially thrown the ticket away out of habit but he is relieved there was a happy ending: “Mr Higgins came in with 2 lottery tickets for me to check.
“The first one wasn’t a winner so I binned it. The second one was a winner but I didn’t expect it to be that much. I just ripped it and binned it because 99% of people don’t want the ticket returned to them.
“I went back to the lottery machine and it said it was in excess of what we could pay so I had to get the ticket out of the bin and return it to Mr Higgins.”
He added: “I apologised and said that he had to phone Camelot and that he had won a decent amount of money but I didn’t expect it to be that much, mind. To hear that they had won £58m was just amazing and for a local couple it’s even better. I don’t even pay out £50 or £100, never mind £58m.”
A spokeswoman for Scotmid said: “Huge congratulations to Fred and Lesley Higgins – we are delighted for them. We have been working closely with the winners, Camelot and our store management to support due process.
“The individual concerned acted quickly and openly and rectified the situation. The most important thing is that two people’s lives have changed forever and all involved agree this was an honest mistake that was immediately rectified, reported and resolved.”