£25m winner Brian likes nothing better than pottering on his allotment
8:53am Friday 7th September 2012 in Local
WHERE might you expect to find a £25 million lottery winner?
Sunning themselves on a desert island, shopping in Beverly Hills or on a luxury yacht, perhaps?
But more than three years after scooping half the jackpot on the EuroMillions draw, granddad Brian Caswell is more likely to be found tending his beloved allotment in Smithills .
There are no obvious clues to the 77-year-old’s wealth — certainly not the 52 reg Kia Magentis car he bought before the win and still uses as a run-around.
The retired sales manager has been going to Harpers Lane Allotments for the past 20 years, since lending a hand to a neighbour who had a plot there.
Mr Caswell, who has been married to wife Joan for 54 years, said: “Being desk-bound or car-bound as a sales manager, the opportunity to get outside, when it came along, was my first priority.
“Being able to just get away from telephones, cars , people mithering you.
“It’s somewhere to go. You retire and then suddenly, unless you’re into golf or fishing, what do you do?
“It’s essential you have some sort of hobby. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.”
He began regularly visiting the allotments and still enjoys the simple hobby, despite being a multi-millionaire.
He said: “It gets you out. Joan is one of those super-fit people and she goes to the gym, yoga, swimming.
“Whereas she doesn’t necessarily come up here much since the win, I still do.
“I like to come at least once a week. It’s a good crowd up here. You can have a laugh, a cup of tea. We’ve got a clubhouse.
“I used to be in charge of the fruit and veg show.
“I don’t do that any more, it’s a young person’s job.”
Mr Caswell says he enjoys banter with the other allotment holders, with some asking: “Why have you not got a gardener doing it for you?
“That’s the most common one. I tell them I’m thinking about it.”
This summer has proved to be frustrating for all of the allotment holders, with good weather in Bolton being one of the things money can’t buy.
He said: “There’s been no fruit this year. The greenhouse is okay because it’s inside. Even then, I’ve got a peach tree that usually gives me 40 or 50lb of fruit, but there’s been nothing off it. It’s disappointing. But at least I’m in the position where I can go and buy some!”
As well as keeping his allotment neat and tidy, Mr Caswell has been busy working on the garden of his nearby £1.25 million five-bedroom farmhouse, which he bought following the win.
Mr Caswell — who has four grandchildren aged 21, 19, 15 and eight — said: “It’s been a two-and-a-half year project.
“It was more or less a field to start with and now it’s a beautiful garden. I’ve done landscaping, my plans.” Aside from his own new house and a Range Rover, his biggest extravagances remain buying new homes for his two daughters. One runs a rescue farm, looking after animals including horses, sheep, chickens and rabbits.
Mr Caswell said: “She’s got the most land attached to her house. The money has enabled her to do that.”
Assuring the futures of his grandchildren was also important to Mr Caswell, who said: “As far as we’re concerned, it’s all into the children now.” When Mr Caswell won the lottery in June, 2009, he went public with the good news, causing a frenzy among the national media, with some tabloid journalists camping outside his home in Halliwell .
He said: “They were camping outside the house. It really bothered Joan.
“If you could go back, which you can’t, then I probably wouldn’t have gone public.
“When you win and it’s public, it comes with a lot of baggage, make no mistake about it — a lot of demands and some are difficult to deal with.
“We got thousands of begging letters. 99.9 per cent are professional letters.
“Everyone wants a piece of the action from the point of view ‘I will be your financial adviser’.Remember, at the time, it was one of the biggest wins ever. You’ve got to be very careful. That’s where Camelot, the lottery operator, comes into its own. They stand by you, they look after you.
“I doubt I would go public again, but I’m quite happy with the result. Fortunately I’ve got a terrific family situation, with the two daughters and the grandchildren. They have taken it in their stride and that’s a large burden off.”
Along with his wife, who worked as a secretary for a funeral director before retiring at the age of 67, he enjoyed a cruise earlier this year to places he had never been to, including Venice, Rome and Istanbul.
But travelling is not top on the list of priorities for Mr Caswell, as he travelled extensively during his career as a sales manager.
He said: “For me, travelling wasn’t the thing because I had done it all my life.
“I travelled the world so that wasn’t the thing for me.
“We went on the cruise in May, when it was hot here and it rained there.”
The couple’s next holiday is booked for November, which will see them cruising round the Caribbean with 20 others for a friend’s wedding.
Mr Caswell still plays the lottery and has won the occasional £10 since his big win, with numbers chosen by a lucky dip.
He said: “Doing it is a bit of a habit and it puts something back into the system.”
The family has also set up a charity which helps worthy causes.
Mr Caswell said: “We set that up very early on and predominantly the two daughters are the ones that run it.
“They deal with all the correspondence that comes in and decide what they are going to do.”
For the foreseeable future, Mr Caswell says he has no plans to hang up his trowel and spade.
He said: “Not at the moment. It’s a very pleasant pastime.”
And what about plans for the future?
He said: “That’s a very difficult one. At 77, the future’s quite close.
“All the plans for the children and grandchildren and things that needed to be done have been done and set up.
“Eventually you will have to die and things are in place for that. We take the weeks, week by week. Joan is super-fit, I feel pretty damn good.
“Why shouldn’t we go on for a good few years yet?”
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