LOTTERY winners from the North-East came together at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, in celebration of the National Lottery’s 25th birthday.

Julie and Allan Prettyman, from Darlington, were shocked when they won £423,989.20 last May.

The couple said the money had gone towards finishing developments on their house and had helped to pay off their mortgage.

The win also went towards holidays for their family.

Mr Prettyman, who is self-employed, said: “Winning the lottery hasn’t changed us as people- it means paying the bills isn’t stressful, and it has relieved the strain of working, meaning we can spend more time with our family.”

Mark and Cheryl Brudenell, from Cleveland, won £1m in 1997, and were among the first ever winners of the game.

They set up their own company which has ran for 18 years, which Mark oversees as property manager and director.

The couple enjoy holidaying and golf, and Cheryl met her idol Robbie Williams in Vegas who she often sees on tour.

Paul and Sue Watson won £1,173,269 in 2007, with their lucky number 12.

Paul said: “The win changed our lives for the better, we have no mortgage worries and life is easier for our family.”

Mr and Mrs Watson owned a fruit shop in Cockerton, which they retired from in 2018, 11 years after winning big.

They bought second-hand cars, a hot tub, and helped their two sons through university.

Alex Best described his win as “unbelievable.”

After his win he invested in housing and purchased a nice car.

He said that he had recently finished working at Flamingo Land.

Gary Henry, from Bishop Auckland, won £4.5m in 2009 with his lucky number was 13, chosen because he was the 13th child.

Since winning Mr Henry has enjoying holidaying and also purchased a jaguar.

He said: “Winning means that I never have to worry about money.

“I spend a lot of time cycling and visiting cafes as I enjoy cake and coffee.”