2015年4月28日星期二

Lottery winner killed by train had struggled to cope with £500,000 jackpot that friends say was 'the worst thing that ever happened to her'

  • Helen Ford, 54, from Penarth, won £500,000 on a scratchcard in 2003
  • She bought a flat with winnings, but struggled to cope with her finances
  • Friends said after death that lottery win 'didn't do much good for her'
  • She died from 'multiple injuries' and a narrative verdict was given for death

A lottery winner who struggled to cope with her £500,000 scratchcard jackpot died when she was hit by a train, an inquest was told.

Former ballet dancer Helen Ford, 54, was able to buy an apartment in the seaside town on Penarth, near Cardiff, with her winnings, but friends said it was 'the worst thing that could ever have happened to her'.

An inquest into her death at Cardiff Coroner's Court was told she had struggled to manage her finances after the lottery win in 2003, and was living with bipolar personality disorder.

Lottery winner Helen Ford (pictured) struggled to cope with her finances after winning £500,000 on a scratchcard in 2003,  an inquest into her death was told

Lottery winner Helen Ford (pictured) struggled to cope with her finances after winning £500,000 on a scratchcard in 2003,  an inquest into her death was told

Miss Ford had won the jackpot prize as part of a hat-trick of wins in one day, scooping £45 on her first scratchcard, then the big prize and later a further £50 on the National Lottery.

Speaking after her death on January 21, this year, her friends said that the money had failed to bring her lasting happiness.   

Close friend Tracey Alexander said: 'When she won the lottery it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to her.

'She was unable to cope with being responsible for the money.

'It didn't do much good for her.'

Miss Ford's friends said as well as her flat, she had bought a seaside apartment, a luxury holiday to the Seychelles, a new Fiat Punto and a cat called Mowgli, as well as donating money to Gamblers Anonymous. 

Her sister, Rebekah Donovan said: 'The worst thing to have happened to her was to win that money.

'Helen was a character, she loved people and they loved her which showed by the enormous turn out at her funeral.'

Miss Ford, pictured after her 2003 Lottery win, had been living with bipolar personality disorder which led her to experience feelings of 'loneliness and despair'

The inquest was told that Miss Ford was offered a new home in supported housing to help with her condition - but she didn't want to leave the flat she had bought with the help of her lottery winnings

Miss Ford, pictured left after her 2003 Lottery win and right more recently, had been living with bipolar personality disorder which led her to experience feelings of 'loneliness and despair'

The inquest heard how Miss Ford walked onto a railway track, near her home in the Victorian seaside town and was hit by a commuter train.

She had left school at the age of 16 and was accepted into Rambert School of Ballet in London, but found it difficult to cope with the pressure and had to cut short her studies.

She had dreamed of being an actress and had walk-on parts in Casualty and District Nurse, but did not work after the lottery win.

The hearing was told how Miss Ford had suffered from bipolar personality disorder which led her to experience feelings of 'loneliness and despair'.

'Helen had won £500,000 on a scratchcard in 2003 and she had struggled to manage her finances,' Dr Martyn Davies, a psychiatrist at Penarth Community Mental Health Team told the inquest. 

Dr Davies added that Miss Ford had frequently taken overdoses as a 'cry for help'. But he said she would quickly recover and return to her 'normal happy and smiling self'.

He said she was offered a new home in supported housing to help with her condition - but she didn't want to leave the flat she had bought with the help of her lottery winnings.

'It is difficult to imagine how more support could have been provided in a very difficult situation over many months,' said Dr Davies.

'It was very difficult with her widely fluctuating emotions.'

The inquest was told Miss Ford died from 'multiple severe injuries', and Cardiff assistant coroner Thomas Atherton recorded a narrative verdict. 

He said: 'I am not satisfied there is enough evidence to return a verdict that Helen Ford took her own life.

'Helen died as a consequence of being hit by a train - her intentions at the time were not clear.' 

For confidential support on suicide matters in the UK, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here



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