A couple who scooped a £1 million lottery windfall say they now feel like double winners after they were able to help both their daughters have children through IVF.
As soon as they realised they had won on the EuroMillions Raffle in February 2018, Ruth and Mark Chalmers’s thoughts turned to the struggles their daughters Natalie and Leanne each had with the condition polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Now Mr and Mrs Chalmers, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, are celebrating life as grandparents as they spend time with Natalie’s son Koby, now three, and Leanne’s son Brogen, 19 months.
Mr Chalmers said that his first thought after he realised they had won was to make sure his daughters got on the property ladder and were mortgage-free.
“And, after that, it was the grandchildren,” he told the PA news agency.
Mr Chalmers said: “Natalie had gone through it for quite a number of years of trying to get pregnant and different things going on with her medical conditions.
“At one stage, she rang me in floods of tears saying ‘they want to take my womb out’ and she thought that was the absolute end.
“But luckily, she persevered, she saw some other doctors, and we didn’t need to go down that route. And then we looked at going down the IVF route.”
He said: “So we’ve sort-of had another double lottery win.
“That’s how I look at it – the fact that the process was was reasonably easy, and they were both successful first round.
“And, obviously, we’ve got the two boys.”
Mr Chalmers, 60, said he and his wife, 61, had planned to use a lump sum he received when he took early retirement to try to fund Natalie’s IVF but “when we won the lottery it just made it so much easier”.
“The lottery is fantasy that became reality for us,” Mr Chalmers said.
He added: “It’s given us a lot of security and a lot of pleasure – most over those two (boys).”
Mr Chalmers said he had nothing but praise for the IVF services his daughters used.
Natalie, 33, explained how she had been through years of operations and tests to try to help her conceive despite having PCOS, but was told it was almost impossible to get pregnant conventionally.
She said that when her mother and father told her about the lottery win making the IVF funding a lot more realistic, she felt “happy, excited, nervous”.
Natalie said: “I just can’t thank them enough for it. They have given me him (Koby), really. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
Leanne, 36, said: “So, when I first found out (about her PCOS) my doctor actually said: ‘You’ll never have kids’, but it turns out that they were wrong.
“It’s not impossible. It’s just really hard.”
She described how, when she decided to try for a baby, she sat with her parents with a financial plan and said “look, I can I can afford to do this, I can afford to support both of us.”
Leanne said her dad “just said yes straightaway, which I didn’t think he would.”
Asked about Brogen, she said: “He is really placid and is totally opposite to Koby.
“They look like twins – everybody thinks they’re brothers.”
Leanne said: “He’s so happy and he’s always smiling. He just likes to play and get on with things.”
The sisters said it is important people with PCOS are given help and support to get pregnant.
“It’s getting a bit better now,” Leanne said.
“When I was diagnosed with it, there wasn’t a lot out there.
“I tried researching it and there wasn’t really much to read about it. A lot of it was quite negative.
“And it was pretty much: ‘You’ve got to get used to the fact that you’ll never have kids.’”
She said: “I found out quite young, I think I was 21 or 22, so it was quite devastating at the time, thinking that I’d never be able to have a family or children or anything.”
Related: £109.9m EuroMillions jackpot paid out to lucky UK ticket-holder