AN 80-year-old woman scooped the top prize in the National Lottery's Thunderball game - and celebrated with a nice cup of tea.

Middlesbrough pensioner Rachel Gibson Fullerton has played the lottery since it began, always relying on the same numbers. On Friday she watched the television in disbelief as her numbers were drawn, scooping her £500,000.

She said: "I've played Lotto and Thunderball pretty much since they launched and have won a few smaller amounts here and there.

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"On Friday night I settled down in front of the television to watch the Thunderball draw and watched as one by one, my numbers came up on the screen. I sat there in a state of shock for a while, but thought I had better speak to someone official to check I wasn't imagining things.

She called Camelot, who verified her life-changing win, then settled down to a celebratory cup of tea before sharing the good news with her closest friends and neighbours in Coulby Newham.

"I just couldn't keep it to myself," she said. "There is a very close-knit community where I live, and I wanted my closest friends to be the first to know - and they've been celebrating with me ever since."

When it comes to spending her winnings, she said she has big plans and is even considering a move from the North-East to Hertfordshire to be closer to family.

"At this moment in time, everything still feels like a bit of a dream but I'm seriously thinking about moving to Hitchin to be closer to my cousin. I have lived in Middlesbrough all my life, and love it dearly but perhaps now is a good time for a change of scene.

"Hertfordshire is over 250 miles away so it’s a big decision but one that I’m giving a great deal of thought to.”

She added: “This windfall has certainly given me a little lift – many people have said that I have a new spring in my step. I feel like a new chapter of my life is unfolding as we speak – which is a wonderful thing to be able to say at my age,”

The winning ticket was bought from Lingfield Ash Post Office in Coulby Newham.