A Hull teacher who survived two brain tumours scoops £65,000 on an Irish Lottery bet.
Nina Curran started playing Lucky Clover an Irish Lottery Pool bet from The Football Pools after a second brain surgery in July 2019.
Now, after matching five numbers, the 48-year-old plans to use her windfall to take at least a year off from teaching in Hull to join one of the Voluntary Service Organisation’s education programmes.
She says the win has given her the chance to pursue an ambition she’s had since starting her career: to give youngsters in some of the world’s poorest countries access to learning.
“VSO is something I’ve always wanted to do, I remember when I was 26 looking into it and speaking to them,” she explains.
“I was planning to go to Burma but then Covid happened, my daughter had to come back from China where she’d been studying and she decided to do a masters here, so I thought I couldn’t go because I’d have to stay to support her.
“Winning this money means there’s nothing stopping me. Hopefully, I can go somewhere for at least 12 months, maybe 18 months, because it’s given me that extra security blanket to go and do it without having to worry.”
Nina has lived and taught in Hull since moving to the city from Manchester for her first job 26 years ago.
A single parent to daughter Dervla, now 24, she began experiencing health problems not long after her 30th birthday.
“I’d had some very strange symptoms, tingling in my face, I lost the feeling in my eye, I kept losing my balance and I was really tired all the time,” she explains. “My mum and a lot of people who knew me thought I had MS because I was sleeping so much.
“I’d had neuralgia diagnosed when I was 18 and when the tingling spread down my face and started getting worse my GP wrote repeatedly to neurologists because he was so concerned about me.”
After two years of perseverance, Nina was finally given a brain scan and the results revealed a large benign tumour.
“I was told it was the size of a satsuma and they booked me in three days later to have surgery,” she recalls. “I was asked if I’d written a will because they couldn’t guarantee I’d make it through the operation. I’d not long turned 30 and my daughter had just turned 7, so it was a very frightening time.”
Surgeons at Hull Royal Infirmary managed to remove the tumour and she was able to return to teaching, moving on to deputy and headteacher roles. When similar symptoms returned just over two years ago, and a scan showed the tumour had grown back, a second operation was also a success.
It was while she was recovering from her second surgery that Nina signed up to play the Football Pools and its Lucky Clover game.
“I had heard of The Pools as they’ve been around for years almost a hundred years, I think, so I felt it was a safe bet plus I remember my dad saying a Pools bet increases your chances to win than a lottery ticket. At the time my daughter was studying in China, and I was stuck at home not being able to do anything so I thought, I’ve got nothing to lose, and it would be nice if I actually won something,” she says.
Nina took out a monthly subscription and just a few months later got her first win.
“I got a message saying ‘congratulations, you’ve won on Lucky Clover – you’ve won £1.50’,” she laughs.
“But that turned out to be just the warm-up because on September 16 I got another message and this time it said I’d won £65,000!
“I’d only just turned my phone on because I’d been at work all day, so I went on the site to double-check it wasn’t a mistake. I phoned up to confirm because I felt like I wanted to know it was true before I got too excited.
“They rang me about 30 minutes later and said ‘yes, it’s true. I couldn’t believe it. The guy had a scouse accent and I know The Football Pools are based in Liverpool, so I was thinking OMG it’s real”
Nina initially thought about buying a new car with her winnings, but soon realised her dream of teaching with the VSO meant more to her.
“I looked at several, but then I thought I can live with my old car, I really want to go away,” she says. “I need to go and live my life and do something I’ve always wanted to do, and this is the money that allows me to do that.
“Having the two brain tumours definitely changed my perspective and when my daughter was away, she travelled all over and I thought I’ve never been to half the countries she’s been to, I haven’t seen as much of the world as I’d love to.
“I’ve always wanted to do VSO and go out and give that bit more in places in the world where they’re not as lucky as we are here. That’s always been my motive in teaching, to give children the opportunities that they deserve because life is about opportunities.”
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