TWELVE bus drivers from a Northamptonshire town have won a massive £38 million EuroMillions jackpot.
The drivers, who have had a syndicate for three years, scooped about £3.1 million each in Friday’s draw.
John Noakes, 49, of Faraday Grove, Corby, who was due to drive the number 5 to Asda today, but like his fellow drivers has quit, said: “It’s surreal, it really is. It’s unreal.
“It’s confusing, but it’s exciting. It’s just starting to hit home that it’s real and not a dream.”
Mr Noakes, who also drove the X1 to Kettering, said the group almost stopped entering recently because their numbers were not coming up.
He said: “We thought it might be better to bung it in a pot and have a party at the end of the year.”
But he is glad they kept it going.
When the organiser of the syndicate called on Friday evening Mr Noakes, who was watching television, thought another member, Dave Mead, known as ‘Pops’, might be ill or something had happened to the organiser’s daughter.
He said: “My mate was telling me what was going on but he was choked up and had to pass his partner on to me and she told me what had gone on.
“I was walking up and down the room. I couldn’t tell my wife.
“I was going ‘No, no, oh my God’. I came in here and I just burst into tears. I said: ‘We’ve won the lottery. We’ve won the EuroMillions’.”
The drivers got together at the organiser’s house and Mr Noakes called Stagecoach to tell their boss he needed 12 new drivers.
Six of the drivers were due to work on Saturday.
Mr Noakes said: “None of us could have worked.
“We couldn’t have concentrated on our driving.”
Each driver insisted on checking the numbers themselves as they arrived.
But Camelot was closed until 9am on Saturday so the friends stayed up all night before their win was confirmed.
Mr Noakes, who finally went to bed at 2am yesterday, said: “Everyone kept looking at each other.
“It doesn’t happen to people like us. It didn’t seem right.”
One of the other winners, Charlie Gillion, was due to retire next month and Mr Noakes was told last week his hours would be cut as the X1 was being cancelled.
He said: “I’m over the moon. It came at the right time
“I was really worried.”
Social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, were full of speculation about who the winners were over the weekend after
rumours leaked out.The news was the talk of the town but everyone agreed the drivers deserved it.