TWO couples from Cleveland are celebrating after a last minute change to their 50p syndicate scooped them £1m.

The best friends from Stockton only entered the EuroMillions Millionaire Raffle when they won £40 on a scratchcard and decided to use some of the winnings to buy some tickets for the draw on Tuesday, February 19.

Claire Sills, 36, a crime preventions manager, and her husband Malcolm, 38, who works in sales, were enjoying a trip to Center Parcs with fellow syndicate friends, Martin Tait, 37, a senior sub-sea engineer in Nigeria and his housewife partner Claire, 36, when they had what proved to be their life-changing scratchcard success.

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Mrs Sills said: “It was Martin’s idea to use the money to buy an extra EuroMillions ticket for the Tuesday draw rather than just getting in another round of drinks. We’re all over the moon we followed his advice.”

And she revealed that her husband almost forgot to check the ticket, which he had kept in his back pocket for three days.

She added: “I checked the ticket at Sainsbury’s and the lady said I had to call Camelot as they don’t pay out anything over £500. I thought we had won maybe a grand per couple, I cried when I found out it was actually £500,000 per couple.”

The two Claires met when they were 16 and worked at Woolworths together and their partners are old friends.

Mrs Sills set Mrs Tait up on a blind date with her future husband 16 years ago and was delighted the pair hit it off.

Commenting on her hsuband’s absence from the press conference, Mrs Tait said: “Martin works four weeks on and four weeks off in Nigeria, so he doesn't return until next Friday."

She added: "I could only speak to him for a few seconds because he was at work. I was just bursting to talk to someone.”

Martin and Malcolm are keen cricketers and have decided to attend the Ashes in Australia in the winter as part of a joint family holiday.

Mr and Mrs Sills will pay off their mortgage and spoil their seven-year-old daughter, while the Taits are planning to take their two children, aged ten and seven, to Florida.

They are to organise a big party with relatives and friends when Mr Tait returns from Nigeria on Friday.