A EuroMillions jackpot winner has said: “I may be a millionaire but there is no sitting in armchairs with a pipe and slippers for me” after using the money to renovate a 500-acre estate he bought.
In 2014, Neil Trotter used part of his £108m jackpot winnings to purchase the item which was “top of his wish list” – a home with its own lake, for him and his partner – Nicky Ottaway, 42.
The home he bought – a 500-acre estate in southern England, complete with a Grade II-listed Manor House – was poles apart from the three-bedroom semi he used to live in.
He now has at least six lakes and woodland ponds.
The house was in need of restoration, and the surrounding land needed to be spruced up. During the process, the couple had to move out at various points, including when the whole west wing flooded during their first winter – but seeing wildlife has made the process “worthwhile”.
“At times it seemed like I had bitten off more than I could chew! I always dreamt of having my own lake but owning so much land has been a huge challenge and responsibility,” Mr Trotter, 50, who used to work as a car mechanic and vehicle sprayer, said.
“I have learnt so much about how to manage woods and to reverse the effects of intensive farming.
“It has been a challenging nine years but I am immensely proud of what we have achieved and I’m never bored!”
There was another spanner in the works in the initial stages of the process, as Ms Ottaway initially “(tried) to talk” Mr Trotter out of buying the property.
“The project was too big, the woodlands were in a poor state, there were so many dead trees everywhere and the house was barely liveable, despite its size,” she said.
Despite this, Mr Trotter has worked hard over the past nine years dredging numerous ponds and lakes and removing tonnes of dead trees from woodlands, among other tasks.
One of his proudest achievements includes creating an arboretum which displays an example of almost every tree in the British Isles.
“It’s a pat on the back after all the hard work to see the wildlife returning to the estate,” he said.
“We planted miles of native hedgerows to provide food for the birds in winter, and by clearing what were muddy puddles in the woods and transforming them into wildlife oases we’ve seen the mandarin duck population boom, herons now nest here, we’ve got kestrels, two species of deer and smaller mammals such as stoats.”
He said that machinery has been key to the restoration, saying that he went from being a “scruffy mechanic who played about with cars” to being able to “continue to play about with machinery but now my toys are a bit bigger”, thanks to the National Lottery win.
“I’ve got tractors, diggers, dumper trucks, a road sweeper – in fact anything that requires an engine, I’ve probably got one somewhere on the property,” he added.
“My current favourite piece of kit is the ‘muncher’ on my digger which is perfect for clearing the overgrown ground cover in the woodland so that new trees can grow.”
Mr Trotter has no plans to stop perfecting his estate, adding that it will “keep evolving”.
“I may be a millionaire but there is no sitting in armchairs with a pipe and slippers for me!” he said.
“While sitting on a digger in driving rain might not be everyone’s ‘when I win the lottery’ dream, it’s exactly as I’d hoped it would be and more.”
He has also supported an up-and-coming young driver, as having a goal linked to motorsport was linked to his “when I win the lottery plan”.
“I have enjoyed success with my own racing and now back a brilliant and talented young driver, Lewis Brown who is competing in the TCR Europe Touring Car Series,” he said.
“I’m able to provide him with the type of support I could only dream of when I was a young driver, but I’m a big believer in helping people who help themselves and Lewis has shown nothing but hard work and commitment, so he deserves a bit of a leg up from me.”
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