In 1996, bus driver Peter Lavery, experienced what many dream of. On a fateful Saturday evening, the Peter Kay lookalike enjoyed drinks with friends, he received a call suggesting he’d won the lottery jackpot.
Initially dismissing it as a joke, Peter returned home. However, upon checking the following day, he discovered that he had won a staggering £10.2 million. Surprisingly, he slid the winning ticket into his jacket pocket and continued his Sunday shift, earning a modest £50.
Nevertheless, by Wednesday, things had dramatically shifted. He’d resigned from his job and was soaking up the sun in a lavish St Lucia resort with friends. Reflecting on this whirlwind, he commented, “I always talked about what I’d do if I won the lottery, but I never dreamed it would actually happen.”
Peter’s life then, unsurprisingly, took a luxurious turn. Soon after the win, he generously whisked 22 friends and family members away for a celebratory spree in New York. On returning, he secured a £300,000 residence in the sought-after ‘Golden Triangle’, a neighbourhood favoured by the rich and famous. He also pampered his loved ones with expensive cars and holidays, including a memorable Concorde trip to New York.
Despite these indulgences, his health suffered due to his excessive partying. Consequently, shortly before turning 40, Peter made a significant lifestyle decision: he quit drinking. He recalled this period, “I didn’t have liver or heart problems but my sugar levels were going in the wrong direction.” This choice led him to a significant venture: converting the historic Titanic Pumphouse into Belfast’s first whiskey distillery in nearly 90 years, providing employment to 40 individuals.
Yet, Peter’s dedication to his community didn’t stop there. Since his win, he has been continuously investing in local endeavours. Furthermore, in honour of his parents, he established The Rita Charles Trust. He generously donated nearly £2 million to various charities in its first five years. Emphasising his commitment, Peter said, “It’s nice to give something back, especially to allow the young kids who have come from where I grew up.”
Currently, a BBC documentary is set to showcase Peter’s most recent ventures. These include a distillery visitor centre and a revamped tour boat for River Lagan. Collaborating closely with family and partners, Peter is quick to highlight, “It’s been a journey and I’m not a one-man band.”
Although Peter’s lottery win drastically changed his life’s trajectory, he remains grounded. Reflecting on what might have been, he mused, “I’d probably still be driving buses. It was a happy job and a happy life. I’ve still got my bus licence just in case I need it.”