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Couple’s £1,000,000 lottery win helped them buy support dog for disabled daughter
20/01/2022 11:34:41

Winning the lottery would of course be life-changing for any family – but one couple were able to transform everything for their young disabled daughter.

Adam and Amy Pryor, from Maidstone in Kent, scooped £1 million in a EuroMillions draw in 2017.

With that money they bought a support dog, golden Labrador Merlin, for their severely disabled daughter Charlotte.

They say the dog ‘brought a bit of magic’ into their lives while having to shield through the coronavirus pandemic.

Amy, 32, said: ‘Our lottery win, eight months after Charlotte was born, could not have come at a better time.

‘The win took a lot of pressure off us and has enabled us to focus on what is most important, Charlotte.’

Charlotte was born seven weeks premature with a cleft palate and other conditions including developmental challenges, hearing difficulties, eyesight problems and issues with her mobility.

A lot of her early life was spent in hospital, causing money worries as the end of Amy’s maternity pay approached.

But their win allowed them to make an enquiry with Supporting Paws – a company that trains assistance and companion dogs for a variety of disabilities and needs.

Merlin’s training is now underway, including teaching him that Charlotte’s hearing aid is not actually a toy.

Amy added: ‘Merlin is a dream come true.

‘[He] is still in training but we can already see the positive impact he is having on Charlotte.

‘He is learning to walk while attached to Charlotte’s wheelchair, which in turn is encouraging Charlotte to go out for walks and I see her looking around for him.’

Merlin is also being community access trained, which will mean that he can go everywhere with Charlotte, including hospital appointments.

‘He has a lovely temperament which has a calming influence and he already feels like one of the family,’ Amy said.

The couple believe without the win, Charlotte’s development would have been considerably different.

Adam, 38, said: ‘Our lottery win has enabled us to do so much, from buying a bigger home with space for a specialist sensory room, to Amy giving up work to take care of Charlotte.

‘But Merlin is by far our favourite purchase.’

Normally a family would need to raise around £9,000 for all costs associated with a Supporting Paws dog.

Charlotte Chaney, from Supporting Paws, said: ‘As a person with autism and a parent of a young person with autism and learning difficulties, I have seen first-hand the difference a support dog can make to a family’s life.

‘Merlin’s training has been tailored to Charlotte and her needs. For example, unlike most dogs who are trained not to jump up, we’ve trained Merlin to jump up so that he can engage with Charlotte while she is in her wheelchair.

‘Similarly we’ve trained Merlin not to react to noises that Charlotte may make, which for other dogs would be a trigger to alert someone that something is wrong.’

Those who play the EuroMillions in the UK also automatically receive a ‘Millionaire Maker’ code printed on their ticket, which creates a millionaire in every draw.

This Friday’s draw will see a EuroMillions European Millionaire Maker raffle, with a record number of 100 1 million Euro prizes available.

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