Lottery winners donate riding mower to ‘amazing’ veterans charity

A couple of National Lottery millionaires were so impressed with the work of a veterans charity that they donated a riding lawnmower to the service.

David and Donna Stickley, who won £21million in 2018, were inspired to give the gift after spending a day volunteering with other lottery winners at Veterans’ Growth near Hastings, East Sussex.

Mr Stickley, from Slough, Berkshire, who introduced the mower to founder Jason Stevens, said: “Meeting Jason and some of the veterans last month gave us the chance to see first hand what an incredible team they are. .

Donna and David Stickley volunteer at Veterans’ Growth near Hastings in Sussex. (Luke MacGregor/Camelot/PA)

“Their commitment to creating a safe and welcoming space for veterans who may be struggling with a range of mental health issues is fantastic.

“In my opinion, Veterans’ Growth is one of many organizations across the country that are unsung heroes.

“What they have accomplished on site, and the support they give our veterans, is truly amazing and I hope the riding mower helps make things a little easier.”

Mr Stevens, who served for 16 years in the army, said: ‘The day after the National Lottery winning team was, I walked around the site and my head was spinning at everything had been accomplished.

“We now had wheelchair accessible paths; the cattle were safe on the right side of the fence and the cold new frame was chock full of plants.

“And then, to get a call from David and Donna telling us they wanted to donate the riding mower, my head was spinning – and still spinning.

“Having the right kit really makes our job easier and a machine like this will make a huge difference in what we can achieve.

“We would have struggled to find the money to buy something like this, so being gifted is just amazing.

“However, this poses a challenge: I see we’re going to have to create a rotation with our more regular service users – I know one or two who like to spend every day driving a mini tractor.”

Ms Stickley said winning the lotto has not changed the couple – as she continues to work part-time, although her husband was able to retire early and work on his model plane collection.

She said: “Everyone thought I would quit working, but I’m happy to remain a useful member of the team.

“We know we’re so lucky and we still can’t believe our luck; Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

“Since our victory, we have been able to enjoy the typical moments of lottery winners – moving into a dream house, upgrading our cars and enjoying a great vacation.

“But without a doubt the best part of winning is being able to help where we can, whether it’s paying for an operation or a trip for a friend who needed a break or, as with the growth of veterans, the gift of the ride- on the lawn mower.

Through horticultural therapy and support, Veterans’ Growth, which has received £79,500 in National Lottery funding, aims to reduce veterans’ levels of stress, anxiety, depression and isolation, while offering training in horticulture.

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