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July 20 - 26 2011
By Auslan Cramb Scottish Correspondent THE winners of the £161million EuroMillions said last week that they would continue playing the lottery as they celebrated their win with a single glass of wine.
The couple from Largs in Scotland, who have been married for 30 years, said that, though they could now afford to swap their “nice wee house” for a Caribbean island, they had no immediate plans to join the international jet set.
Colin Weir, 64, a retired TV cameraman and studio manager, said they enjoyed playing the lottery so much they would be buying a ticket for Saturday’s Lotto draw “as soon as they found an outlet”.
Holding hands as they faced the cameras at a hotel in central Scotland, the couple outlined modest plans for their new life as one of the country’s wealthiest couples.
Their EuroMillions win puts them 430th on the rich list, just behind David and Victoria Beckham and ahead of Ringo Starr, the former Beatle, and the Marquess of Bath.
Chris Weir, 55, a retired psychiatric nurse, said they might buy a new home but they were attached to their three-bedroom house with views over the sea.
She is considering buying a new car, perhaps a Lexus, while Mr Weir remains attached to his hatchback.
“If you have a reliable car, what is the point of changing? You don’t want to break down,” he said.
Champagne moment: Colin and Chris Weir celebrate winning the £161million EuroMillions jackpot. Inset left: their home in Largs
They also plan to buy homes and driving lessons for their son Jamie, 22, a call centre worker, and their daughter Carly, 24, a photography student. The pair have just become the most eligible singletons north of the border.
Travel is high on their agenda and they plan to fly first class to destinations including China, Australia and Thailand.
Mr Weir, a keen football fan, is also considering buying a box at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium in Spain.
Mrs Weir said: “We are not afraid of this, it seems mammoth, it seems fantastical. When we woke on Wednesday morning the world was totally different, but we are not scared.
“It is going to be so much fun. We are not flashy people, we are not celebrities and we hope that once we have shared our good news we will be able to go back to being us.”
The couple learnt they had won at midnight last Tuesday when Mrs Weir checked, and rechecked, the numbers. The couple are not in the habit of watching the draw as it clashes with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, their favourite television programme.
“I couldn’t believe what I
was seeing,” she said. “I checked three or four times before going back downstairs to find Colin. He knew immediately by my face and tone that something was up.”
By then the EuroMillions phone line was closed, so they sat up all night “buzzing and full of adrenalin” before calling at 9am to confirm their win.
“We even opened a bottle of wine, that is how excited we were,” said Mrs Weir. “And I don’t drink.”
They are both retired and have had health problems in recent years. Mr Weir, who has arthritis, left his job early to act as a carer for his wife, who has now recovered after a lengthy illness.
They will also consider setting up a charitable trust, but insisted they would take their time over any big decisions. “With great wealth comes great responsibility,” Mr Weir said.
Mrs Weir said travel had never appealed to her husband, whose health problems made long flights “such a hassle”. However, travelling in the comfort of first class “could definitely persuade him”.
“We have both always wanted to see the Great Wall of China and Colin would love to stand at the foot of Ayers Rock in Australia,” she said. “We also love art galleries so this gives us the chance to visit those in Paris and in Russia. These are all things we thought we would never see.”
Mr Weir said: “The kids are very down to earth and we are confident they will remain level-headed. They have some great friends who we know will give them lots of support and of course they have a fantastic chance in life now to follow their dreams and do whatever they want.”
The couple banked the entire jackpot, which rose to £161,653,000 after several rollovers.
The winning numbers were 17, 19, 38, 42 and 45, and the Lucky Stars were 9 and 10.
By Louise Armitstead PROPOSALS to shore up Greece with bonds guaranteed by the eurozone amount to forcing taxpayers to “vouch for Greece’s entire national debt”, the head of Germany’s central bank has warned.
In an attack that pits Germany against other eurozone countries before a vital European summit this week, Jens Weidmann said: “Nothing would destroy more quickly and in a more lasting fashion incentives for a solid budget policy than joint guarantees for sovereign debt. But this is exactly what some politicians and economists are proposing in the form of eurobonds as a solution to Greece’s problems.”
Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, said issuing eurobonds was “one of a series of options that have to be looked at” and “an option I favour”.
Mr Gilmore said the stronger European countries had to see the crisis as a “eurozone problem rather than an issue for individual countries”. The debate has exposed another dangerous rift among leaders at a critical time in the crisis and threatened to drive stock markets lower this week.
Over the weekend, Poul Thomsen, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief to Athens, said that Greece’s finances were on “a knifeedge”. Last week the IMF said Greece needed an extra €100bn (£88bn) of aid on top of the €110bn bail-out package agreed last May. Greece is already being crushed under its €350bn debt.
The 17 eurozone nations are due to hold a crisis summit in Brussels on Thursday to agree fresh support for Greece and urgent measures to prevent contagion spreading to Italy and Spain. Last Friday Italy passed a €48bn austerity budget.
George Papandreou, the Greek Prime Minister, repeated a call for urgent and unified action. “It is time for Europe to wake up,” he said on Sunday.
Analysts at Capital
Economics said: “The policymakers’ continued dithering appears to be pulling both Spain and Italy further into the crisis. Either they stop fiddling and take decisive action or they may soon have to start contemplating the unthinkable.”
Herman Van Rompuy, president of the EU, said the summit would focus on “the financial stability of the euro area as a whole and the future financing of the Greek programme”.
Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State who was in Athens on Sunday for meetings with Mr Papandreou, said America would “back Greece” and that the “price of inaction would have been far higher”.
David Cameron and George Osborne have repeatedly argued that Britain would not be sucked into the debt crisis, but Nick Clegg said on Sunday that he was “incredibly worried” about the situation.
“I believe we should play an active role behind the scenes,” he told the BBC.
By Christopher Hope Whitehall Editor CHARACTERISING Army reservists as a “Dad’s Army” of part-time soldiers is offensive, Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, said on Sunday.
Dr Fox unveiled plans on Monday to expand the role of the Territorial Army to make up for cuts to regular soldiers.
Critics have said that reserve soldiers are inefficient and ineffective, while advocates say that properly supported reserves can be cheaper and more flexible than regular forces. Before his statement to MPs in the House of Commons, Dr Fox said reservists had not received the level of recognition they deserved.
He told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme: “It’s a little offensive when we’ve used the reserves so successfully in Afghanistan to talk about them as Dad’s Army. They have had tremendous effect by supplementing what we do in Afghanistan. The medical facilities at Camp Bastion are largely drawn from the reserves.”
Part of the problem was that there had not been “sufficient money going into the reserves in recent years … and I intend to put that right”, he said.
Dr Fox was expected to confirm that the Army would be cut by a fifth from its current size of 102,000 to about 82,000 by 2020. This reduction in the regular Army would only happen when the Government invests more in reserve forces and Britain had withdrawn from Afghanistan.
The aim will be to provide 30 per cent of troops deployed in future military operations from reservists.
Dr Fox said: “We need to look at international comparisons where you generally see the reserves slightly bigger in relation to the regular forces that we have in Britain.
“One of the problems in the UK has been the rundown of the reserves and I have, in opposition and during our time in government, been very concerned to see that we are going to put the correct resources into the reserves, to make sure they’re properly trained and equipped. We cannot simply see the reserves as a group of people from whom we draw a six-month tour of Afghanistan and let the rest wither on the vine.”
Last Saturday it was disclosed that Dr Fox would say the TA was to retain its current strength of 36,000, with an estimated 5,000 reservists trained for frontline operations. This was despite concerns that only one in 20 TA soldiers has sufficient training to be deployed. Defence sources said that Britain would have a total force of 120,000 soldiers by 2020, divided 7030 between regular service personnel and reserves.
Dr Fox was also due to say that further funding to pay for more defence equipment from 2014 had been agreed. The money will pay for additional Chinook helicopters and surveillance aircraft.