How would you react if you saw your Lotto numbers come up?

Do you already know how you’d spend your winnings?

Would it change your life?

These are questions most of us will never be in the position to answer, but one lucky family from Great Sutton can, having scooped £66,164 back in 2006.

Jenny Ringstead wasn’t a habitual Lotto player by any means when she decided to buy a Lucky Dip on a whim en route to play netball one night.


She only thought to check the ticket a couple of weeks later and initially thought she had won around £1,000.

Having been instructed to contact the regional National Lottery office by her local newsagent, Jenny, now 39, said she was ‘buzzing’ to learn she had won 66 times that amount.

Now ten years on, Jenny and her husband Brendan, 47, are celebrating one decade of living and working in West Africa, having shunned flash cars and expensive jewellery in favour of ploughing all their money into realising their charity dream.

Jenny explained that the Lotto win ‘could not have come at a better time’, as they had recently given up their jobs and moved to The Gambia to launch the Gunjur Project – a lodge offering an ethical approach to tourism, ensuring that visitors leave having made a positive impact on the community.

Visitors enjoy djembe lessons with Ousman from Bamba Dinka band
Visitors enjoy djembe lessons with Ousman from Bamba Dinka band

“We were facing financial difficulties finishing the project – we had come too far to turn back and finances were becoming increasingly difficult to stretch,” the former care home manager said.

With their winnings they were able to complete construction and install a solar power system, enabling them to live off-grid, and ‘put the positive focus’ back on their dream.

The Gunjur Project has hosted more than 65 groups of youths and adults since then.

The team – which consists of Jenny, Brendan, Jenny’s parents Jo and Butch Austin-Preece and their Gambian partner Alagi Bojang – and their visitors have built schools, sponsored the education of hundreds of students, distributed educational equipment, provided medical care and worked with a number of community organisations.

What's next?

Their next project is to build a community skills centre to facilitate training, education and the sharing of skills.

Jenny added: “If we hadn’t had the Lotto win, I don’t know what we would have done.

“The whole move to Gambia has totally changed our lives.”

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