A WORKER scooped £500,000 on the lottery after swapping to an early shift so he could attend a hospital appointment.

Jeff Etherington, a machine setter for the automotive industry, said he "can't help thinking its fate".

The 65-year-old, from Harlow, bought his winning Thunderball lucky dip ticket at Sainsbury's in Harlow on January 11 after attending a meeting about his knee replacement.

Epping Forest Guardian:

He plans to continue working and tie the knot with his fiance Kim Read, 60.

Mr Etherington said: "I've always believed that one day I would win big.

"It has taken me 28 years, but here we are; I'm heading into retirement with £500,000 extra to my name.

"I can't help thinking its fate; had I not swapped shifts for that hospital appointment, I wouldn't have been buying my lucky dip ticket at that exact moment, and some other lucky person might now be celebrating instead."

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He and Ms Read have five children and eight grandchildren between them.

"We've been together for six years and finally got engaged in 2021," continued Mr Etherington.

"We always knew we would get married eventually, but the money was always spent on something else."

Thanks to their lucky numbers, they have decided to elope as soon as possible. 

Epping Forest Guardian:

He added: "I was convinced it must be a joke, but the logical part of my brain kept telling me it was a real ticket, so it must be a real win.

"Using the same logic, I checked the National Lottery app.

"Scanning my ticket, the app told me the results were not yet available; I must have scanned it about 100 times until suddenly it pinged and £500,000 popped up in the window.

"I messaged a few of my work colleagues, including my boss, a screenshot of the ticket and my winning £500,000 message from the app.

"My boss congratulated me and immediately asked if I would be handing in the notice.

"I think he was very relieved when I confirmed he'd have to put up with me for a bit longer.

"We're still trying to get our heads around it.

"It's just numb up there at the moment."