Winning the Lottery doesn’t always just mean fast cars and luxury holidays. It can mean the opportunity to pursue a passion or take up a new hobby. That is exactly what has taken Neil Jones to the verge of representing his country.
Neil Jones, 52, from Stoke on Trent retired as a tiler after he won £2.4Million on Lotto in 2010 with his partner Julie Kirkham. The win allowed him to pursue two passions – scuba diving and pool. Neil has been all over the world scuba diving and is now a certified ‘Master Diver’. But closer to home it’s another type of pool that Neil spends most of his time with and he doesn’t have to worry about getting wet.
Neil played snooker as a teenager but stopped until he picked up his cue again after winning the Lottery. He said, “I don’t know why I stopped but with the extra time due to the win, I wanted a hobby. I popped in the old snooker hall and had a go at pool. The guys asked me to play in one of the teams and I simply rose up through the ranks.”
Neil bought himself a pool table for home and practised every day. The mixture of hard work and his natural talent has paid off. “I had county trials for Staffordshire over 50s and I am now a member of that team. I play in a Midlands league covering Staffs, Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester and the West Midlands and I currently top the table. If I am in the top two, I go through to England trials.”
Getting a national trial would be emotional for Neil. “I didn’t get through last year by a narrow margin and I remember my Dad saying don’t worry son, maybe next year. He has always followed my pool playing and given me lots of encouragement. Unfortunately, he passed away earlier this year so getting through would be a dream and I know he would be looking down on me. Whatever happens it would be for him.”
Neil said, “Winning the Lottery has made all this possible. I couldn’t have bought a pool table and practised if I was still working. I had £13 left in the world when I won and I now I am on the verge of having trials for my country.”