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Breaking the good news

Gail McIntyre may well have the best job in the world.

Six times every year, she gets to tell one lucky person or couple that they’ve won a brand new, fully-furnished Jennian home valued at more than $500,000.

As Lottery Manager for the Heart Foundation, Gail oversees a programme which has given away 90 dream homes, 180 overseas escapes and more than $900,000 in cash.

“Getting to ring the winners and tell them they’ve just one a fully-furnished home is simply amazing. I reckon it’s the closest thing you get to being Santa Claus - but six times a year!” she says.

Gail says she feels blessed to have met some incredibly wonderful and deserving winners. Some of them have definitely taken a special place in her heart.

Two such people are Jim and Christine Green (pictured), who were aboard a cruise ship en route to England when they heard the good news.

“We called in to a cafe in Singapore to check our emails. There was one from Gail at the Heart Foundation and she wanted to know if this was the correct address because she needed to contact us,” Christine recalls.

They replied and Gail emailed back only a few minutes later.

“She said she was going to see about scanning a letter to us. Well, before that could happen our time ran out so we went back to the ship. We did wonder what it was about, so the following day we thought we better jump on one of the ship’s computers.”

Christine was sitting in the library when she read the letter explaining that she and Jim had won first prize - a $500,000 Jennian home in Whangamata, on the Coromandel.   

“I couldn't believe it and I called a staff member over and showed her. She ran off and printed the letter off for me. Then I had to find Jim to tell him the amazing news. It’s just as well he was on his own because we both became quite emotional,” she says.

The semi-retired couple didn’t have to think too hard about whether to keep or sell their new home. Gail says about 80 per cent of winners sell the homes because of location. But when the Greens won the Lottery, location wasn’t an issue.

“How amazing to win a brand new furnished house only 12kms away from where we already lived, in Whiritoa! That was back in March 2012 and two years later, we’re still pinching ourselves. Jim wakes up every day and says ‘I can't believe this’,” Christine says.

Jim and Christine have been buying tickets for about 14 years and the Heart Foundation is their chosen charity.

“Both our mothers had passed away because of heart conditions,” Christine says. 

After handing over keys for the past nine years, Gail is now thrilled to be celebrating the Lottery’s momentous 21st birthday.

“The Heart Foundation launched a Lottery programme in 1993 to raise funds so we could fight the country’s single biggest killer – heart disease. Funds raised help us continue our life-saving work, such as education and training, prevention programmes and supporting research.” 

To mark the Lottery’s 21st birthday, Gail’s team has created its biggest ever prize pool, worth $720,000.

First prize is a stunning three-bedroom, fully-furnished Jennian dream home in Pauanui, with a registered valuation of $650,000.

Two overseas holidays, a new car from Toyota and $10,000 cash are also up for grabs.