Tributes were paid today (tues) to Britain’s most charitable lottery winner who gave away a staggering £5.5m of her £7.6m fortune after she died aged 77.
Barbara Wragg passed away on Monday morning (21 May) after a five year battle with her health.
She and her husband Ray, 80, won the National Lottery in 2000 but decided within a matter of weeks to give more than half of their winnings away.
Thousands of people benefited from their generosity while they retained a relatively modest life style.
It is thought the couple gave away around 70 per cent of their fortune to good causes over course of two decades.
They gave money to family and friends but also 17 separate charities including a number of hospitals in their hometown of Sheffield, South Yorks.
Husband Ray today paid tribute to his wife who he said had left behind a wonderful legacy of kindness and love.
The father-of-three said: “It is so very sad because Barbara, who has given so much
to the NHS, both working for them and charitable donations, didn’t deserve this.
”She was so kind and caring. She was naturally like that, even before the lottery
The humble couple lived in a council house, which they bought for £10,000 back in the 80s.
Each week they played five lines on the National Lottery, using different numbers each week, picked at random from registration plates.
When their lives changed on January 22, 2000, with a massive lottery windfall – with numbers 7, 9, 10, 40, 41 and 44 – they decided straight away they would give a lot of it away.
At the time, Barbara said: “I look at it this way – £7.6million is too much for one
couple in the 50s and 60s to spend.
“As soon as we knew we’d won we made our decision to give much of it away.
“By the time we went to bed we’d already worked out that we might give away about
four-and-a-half million pounds.”
Ray has told how the last five years had been “hell” as Barbara suffered with pains in her hip and back, went through a mastectomy after breast cancer and complications with gall stones – which finally took her life.
She went into Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, for an operation to remove gall stones last week, but sadly never came out.
Her family, including their children, joiner Mark, 54, university supervisor Shaun, 48, and children’s hospital worker Amanda, 44, were by her side as she fought for her life.
The couple did treat themselves to a couple of luxuries including a Range Rover and quickly moved from their home, which they then sold for a steal to allow a young couple to afford a home of their own, into a five-bed executive new build house.
It cost £415,000 in 2000 and boasted Barbara’s dream feature – bay windows.
They also went on their first exotic holiday having gone away for 31-years straight to
They opted for cruises around the Mediterrean and the Caribbean, as Barbara suffered with claustrophobia and didn’t want to fly.
The first cheques Barbara wrote came from the proceeds of the sale of their council
They went to Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital to pay for a bladder scanner and
Weston Park Hospital where Barbara and Ray’s daughter, Amanda, who had been treated for Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer.
The couple also bought 30 television sets so each child in a local hospice could watch TV in bed.
Every Christmas for six years they picked up the bill for taking 250 children from a
deprived inner city school to enjoy Sheffield’s pantomime.
Barbara recalls a visit to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital breast clinic in 2010.
While waiting for her appointment she noticed a pot for donations and during her consultation she told the specialist she would like to write a cheque.
She said: “He asked me how much I wanted to donate and I told him £5,000. He said: ‘That will keep my young lads in research for a year’.”
Countless other charities have benefited including Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, the Make a Wish Foundation, Whirlow Hall Farm Trust, the Meningitis Trust and Help The Aged.
“You get a buzz,” she explained. “It’s probably a bit selfish giving money away sometimes because we did get pleasure from it.
“It’s like when you give somebody a Christmas present and you watch them open it and they think it’s absolutely wonderful. Well, when we’ve given people money we get that all the time.”
The Wraggs helped a group of World War Two veterans on a trip to honour fallen comrades in 2003.
They paid for 50 war heroes to visit Italy for the 60th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino in 2004 after they had failed to secure enough funding.
Mr Wragg said: “We’d like to say we made a lot of people happy with what we’ve been able to do to donate to a lot of charities.
“Winning the lottery changed our lives but not our persons.”
At this time, the couple had little money left to give away — just enough for their retirements.
Though the opportunities to give were always at the forefront of their minds, turning family occasions into charitable events.
Good causes they have helped: Meningitis Trust, Macmillan Nurses, Childline, Help The Aged, Help For Heroes, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Monte Cassino Veterens, Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Bents Green School Sheffield, Manor Boxing Boys and Girls Club, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Park Hill School Sheffield, Park Hill Lodge Sheffield, Help A Hallam Child, Norton House Country Club, Breast Cancer Research headed by Professor Malcom Reed at Sheffield University.