What may be Ireland's longest-running lotto syndicate collects €52k for 29 special school workers

The staff of a special school in Athlone, Co Westmeath, have collected €52,401 on the Lotto after 30 years of trying.

The St. Hilda’s Special School Syndicate of 29 current and former staff were thrilled with their Lotto Match 5 Plus Bonus win when they called to National Lottery Headquarters to collect their cheque.

School Principal, Pia Farrell, said the syndicate with nine staff was first set up three decades ago when the National Lottery started and when the school was much smaller.

She said: "Like the school the syndicate has grown over the years and includes teachers, special needs assistants and support staff.

"We may be the oldest Lotto syndicate in Ireland."

St Hilda’s caters for pupils with moderate, severe and profound learning disabilities aged between four and 18 years.

Pia said: "It is a very special school and we are currently going through a new build and are fundraising. Our pupils are very special to us all, we are privileged to be working here."

The staff are planning to fundraise for a sensory garden, something which Pia said would be very beneficial to their 42 pupils.

The syndicate includes ex-principal Anne Gately, who retired last year, and one of the few male staff members of the school Nigel Farrell, a special needs assistant.

They got the bus to the National Lottery headquarters in Dublin from Athlone after school hours yesterday, and said the pupils were very excited to hear of their teacher’s good fortune.

News of the win registered with the syndicate secretary, Geraldine West, during storm Ophelia on Monday when she checked their quick pick numbers.

She told the school principal and the duo revealed the good news to the rest of the syndicate on Tuesday.

Geraldine said: "The school was closed Tuesday due to Storm Ophelia but the staff were asked to come in and we surprised them with cake and champagne."

Each syndicate member will get a little over €1,800 each and most of the syndicate plan to use the winnings to get a start on Christmas shopping.



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