UK’s oldest Lotto jackpot winner is a manger maker

Britain’s oldest Lotto jackpot winner has been busy during lockdown, using his woodworking skills to make a Christmas crib for his local church.

Dennis Banfield, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, is a passionate craftsman who has made 50 nativity cribs including one for his local church, St. Michaels the Archangel Church in Winterbourne, near Bristol. When the retired electrician heard that his original crib was too small to house a new set of nativity figures donated by a parishioner, he sprang into action.

Dennis, who along with his wife Shirley and two daughters, won £18Million on Lotto in February 2018, set about building his biggest crib to date: a structure that is 1.9m long, 1m high and 1m deep. Ladders, a hayloft and stables were constructed from bits of spare wood from his shed and the retired electrician even installed a lighting system.

Dennis said, “I find great happiness in making the cribs and giving them away to family and friends. During lockdown it has kept me busy and given me something really positive to focus on.”

The new crib was finished in time to feature in video recordings of Father Malcolm Strange’s Christmas sermons which the St Michael’s congregation will view online due to coronavirus restrictions.

Father Malcolm said, “This crib is an absolute work of art and we’re thrilled to be able to put it on display in the Church for all our congregation to enjoy during the festive season and we will be blessing it on Christmas Day.”

Dennis, who retired from his job at The South Western Electricity Board 30 years ago, treated himself to a few new tools and a new workbench after his National Lottery win. A second crib he made this year has just been presented to Cots for Tots House – a Bristol charity providing free accommodation for family members who need to stay close to their sick or premature babies.

He feels he has been extremely fortunate with his lockdown experience. Dennis said, “I’ve spent most of my time in my workshop which I really enjoy. We are also fortunate that our daughters live nearby. They made sure we had the internet installed at the start of the year, bought us each a new iPad and got us set up with Netflix. I have spent many happy hours looking for new tools on the internet, watching videos and reading reviews on YouTube…”

He feels that Shirley, who sings in the choir at St Michaels, has found the lockdown more difficult. He said, “She’s really missed her shopping and singing in Church. She also had her 85th birthday in lockdown in October and she wanted to see her sisters and families who all live far away.”

Dennis added, “We’re both looking forward to getting out for a meal when we can. Shirley always says it’s such a treat to have someone else cook you a meal and not to have to worry about tidying up.”

24th December 2020

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