WOULD $3.5 million make a difference?
All the difference in the world, if you ask well-liked Gympie smash repairer Noel Atkinson, who has been operating his panel beating business in Barter St for 65 years.
Fortunately, Mr Atkinson has also been buying RSL Art Union tickets for the past 30 or 40 years of that time.
“I started when I was 19,” Noel said on Wednesday, looking around his now much-expanded business and explaining his unexpected success in the lottery’s $10 Golden Treasure draw.
“Wages were three pound a week then.”
Mr Atkinson has quickly adjusted to the news that, after signing some papers next Friday, he and his wife Myrtle will be the proud owners of a penthouse and six rentable units at Southport, on the water and just across the bridge from Surfers Paradise, all of it valued at $3,517,036.
The three-storey apartment complex promises a rental return of $112,320 on the six units downstairs, as well as a holiday penthouse for the Atkinsons, or $135,000 a year if he rents the lot.
MR Atkinson also has the option of selling the units “tax-free”.
“I haven’t planned anything. I might have just one beer tonight. One a day’s enough for me,” he said.
All this new-found easy money is his surprising reward for a regular ticket purchase which he always regarded as a donation to the veteran community, rather than an investment.
“I was up getting groceries, on my way home, when the mobile phone went off.”
That was about 10.30am on Wednesday.
“The voice asked, ‘Are you Noel Atkinson? Have you seen the results of the RSL draw today? You won it!’
“I thought, ‘That’s a bit different.’
“I didn’t believe it.
"I said, ‘You’re having a go at me’.
“I didn’t even know we had a ticket.
"We just get them automatically.
“I have to go down to the (Gold) Coast to sign a few things.
"Part of the deal is a $2000 travel voucher, in case I want to fly or take a limo.”
Mr and Mrs Atkinson have a daughter, Lynn, a medical scientist who manages QML in Gympie and a son, Peter, who did his journalism cadetship at The Gympie Times, before a few career changes which have led him now to be group managing editor for Pagemasters Australia, which supplies national and other news services to newspapers like this one.
For Mr Atkinson and his family, it is the perfect tonic for some hard times in recent years.
“I’ve had a few bad things happen recently, including the flood.
“I’ve struggled through and done pretty well, but this downturn has hurt everyone.
“I own everything.
"If I’d been starting out, with debt, I couldn’t have done it.
"But this has made up for all that.
“A lot of people say you never see a winner.
"Well here’s one,” he said.
“I don’t work anymore.
"I’m lucky to have a really good staff and a good manager.
“I’ll be using the boat a bit more.
"I don’t know what I’ll do just yet though.”
Peter Atkinson yesterday said he had told his parents during some of their more difficult times that they would win out in the end.
“Good things happen to good people,” he said.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.