Growing up in rural Slovakia, she watched her mother and father work gruelling 12-hour days to provide a comfortable home for their family.
So after winning £105million on EuroMillions, Lenka Thomson knows she owes a lot to her doting parents.
But her delighted mother Gabriela Hromadkova insisted yesterday that she wants Lenka, her British husband and their three children to enjoy the windfall, adding: ‘Money isn’t everything.’
Gabriella Hromandkova, 67 and her son Ratislav, 43, pictured yesterday at the family home in Rakova, Slovakia where Lenka, 41 grew up before leaving for the UK at the age of 20, where she met her husband Steve
Steve Thomson, pictured with his wife Lenka, met 17 years ago. Now the couple, who have three children, have won a massive pre-Christmas windfall of £105 million
Speaking at the family home in Rakova, 142 miles from the Slovakian capital Bratislava, the 67-year-old retired customs official told how her daughter at first mistakenly said she had won £105,000.
Mrs Hromadkova recalled: ‘She said, “Are you sitting down? Hold on.” Then she said, “I’ve won the lottery.” At first I didn’t understand what she was saying because she was crying and then laughing, she was so excited.
‘After that I was just so happy. The first time she told me the number she made a mistake. Instead of saying millions she forgot three zeros and said thousands. I couldn’t even work out the difference because it’s still a huge amount. I won’t believe it all until I see it in black and white – in her bank.’
Mrs Thomson, 41, and her builder husband Steve, 42, of Selsey, West Sussex, were named as the seventh-biggest British winners in lottery history on Tuesday. The couple met 17 years ago when he worked at a campsite and she was studying.
Lenka left Slovakia aged 20 and after doing a hospitality course had a variety of jobs, including waitressing, before working in a store.
Yesterday her brother Ratislav Hromadka, 43, who runs the family car repair garage founded by their father Josef, 70, said one of the reasons she went to Britain was to earn more money.
Mrs Thomson met her husband while he worked in a campsite while she was studying in the UK 17 years ago while doing a course in hospitality management
‘Now she has it!’ he joked. ‘My sister deserves this. Initially she said, “It’s too much money”. I can’t even explain my reaction.
‘I love my sister and I don’t want anything... but I’m sure she will get me something – maybe a car.’
The average two-bedroom home in Rakova costs around £40,000. Mr Hromadka, who lives with his parents, his wife and their two children, added: ‘Lenka could come home now and purchase every house in Rakova!’
After they were announced as winners, the Thomsons said they would upgrade from their three-bedroom home so their sons, aged ten and 15, could have their own rooms. They also have an eight-year-old daughter.
Mrs Hromadkova speaks to her daughter regularly on the phone and the family visit Slovakia once a year. She described working 12-hour days on the Czech border before returning to file paperwork at the family garage, where Josef would regularly work long hours.
Despite this, she said the family, whose home is worth around £88,000, are happy with what they have. ‘I just want Lenka to enjoy her life now,’ she said. ‘We don’t need anything from her. I just want Lenka to make the kids happy – that is the most important thing.
‘Lenka does want to help her brother with the business because it was their dad’s so they want to help him so it works better.
‘Lenka also takes it as a responsibility to make good decisions with the money. Money can change you. She doesn’t want that.
‘I believe she can handle it. We have never lived as a rich family so she can handle it.’
Mrs Hromadkova added that the family are already looking forward to Lenka and the grandchildren returning to Slovakia.
‘We have a nice party every time Lenka comes so this one will just be a bit bigger,’ she said.
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