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Lady Luck smiles on Blenheim couple

Rex Handley reckons his run of good luck started two decades ago when he suffered a heart attack – and survived. He and his wife Adrienne have had many reasons to celebrate since then, but winning the Heart Foundation’s Lottery is certainly top of the list.

The Blenheim couple took out Lottery Number 89 last month, claiming ownership of a stunning fully-furnished Jennian dream home, worth $510,000, near Wanaka in the South Island.

“There are so many things which are hard to believe. Winning a major prize in a lottery is one. Even today, after experiencing ten days living in the lovely new Jennian Home at Albertown, it’s as if we are still dreaming and need convincing this has really happened,” Rex says.

When contacted by the Heart Foundation and told he’d won, Rex thought someone was playing a trick on him.

“A call came through which I had the utmost difficulty understanding, mainly because of deafness. After many requests to repeat I finally determined that I was speaking to an official of the Heart Foundation and she was conveying to me that, out of all the tickets sold, mine was the winning one.”

Shocked, Rex went to find Adrienne at the washing machine, and asked her to turn it off and take a seat.

“She reckoned I was ashen-faced and her concern was who has died! When I told her, she beamed and chuckled and we hugged each other. How lucky can one be?” he exclaimed.

The luck started in 1992 when Rex suffered a heart attack. “I was one of the two out of three that survive.” Life returned to normal for a while, until Rex needed triple bypass surgery two years later.

“Twenty years have now passed and there have been no further symptoms. My luck is holding.”

Rex found out about the Heart Foundation and its Lottery programme while recovering from his heart attack. He signed up for the Lottery and has been buying two tickets every draw since.

“I believe it to be a worthwhile cause, particularly from the point of view of research.”

With a history of heart disease in his family, Rex says he and Adrienne are fortunate to have reached their 80s in good health. Having four children - “all with intact marriages” - and three great-grandchildren is a further source of joy.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a Pacific Cruise in June.

The couple have just visited their new three-bedroom home and describe it as a “magnificent, spacious and very liveable home which we would dearly love to keep and enjoy living in”. They have decided to sell the house, along with their Blenheim home of 40 years, and put the proceeds towards a smaller house suitable for their “advancing years”.

“This increased capital will have a profound effect on our choice of replacement. We feel so lucky. Further cruises are now in the offing and maybe a new car, which would be the first since 1984!”

With such a lifetime of luck, it’s unsurprising to hear Rex say the couple’s standing order for the Lottery “will remain indefinitely”.

The Heart Foundation’s Lottery is celebrating its 21st Birthday this month. Since 1993, the Lottery has given away 90 dream homes, 180 overseas escapes and $900,000 in cash.

Heart Foundation Direct Marketing and Donor Development Manager Gail McIntyre (pictured with Rex and Adrienne in the photo above) says the Lottery programme is one of the charity’s major revenue-generating activities.

“Money raised through the Lottery programme helps the Heart Foundation to fight the country’s single biggest killer – heart disease,” Gail says.

“Thanks to the public’s support of the programme, the Heart Foundation is able to provide many life-saving services – including training and education, research, prevention and assistance to those affected by heart disease."