How a tiny Scottish island won a £3m jackpot

·2-min read
North Uist won the lottery - here's what they did...
North Uist won the lottery - here's what they did...

Life on North Uist and Berneray, a pair of remote, wild and beautiful neighbouring islands in The Outer Hebrides, just off the North West Coast of Scotland, is usually pretty low key.

 That all changed in January last year when around one tenth of the tiny community of 1200 or so islanders found themselves sharing a £3m jackpot between them via the Peoples' Postcode Lottery. 


The news was dubbed a real-life Whisky Galore, (after Compton Mackenzie's classic 1947 novel about a cargo vessel stuffed with whisky running aground on a fictional Scottish island).

Suddenly, islanders who played the charity lottery for fun found themselves unexpectedly rich beyond their wildest dreams. 

Read more: Security guard lands £250k lottery and first date on the same day

The £3m prize pot, which had never been won in the Outer Hebrides before, was split between those playing the lottery in the winning postcode sector HS6 5. 

Those playing with the full winning postcode found themselves taking home the biggest cheques with two neighbours on Berneray, home to only 140 people, scooping £193,055 each when their exact postcode (HS6 5BJ) was announced as the winner. 

Nearly 100 other lucky locals received amounts ranging from £21,425 to £64,275, depending on how close their postcode was to the winning combination of numbers and letters, while many more pocketed smaller wins. 

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The islands of the Outer Hebrides are famous for stunning beaches (which can rival those in the Caribbean for turquoise seas and golden sands, if not for temperatures), and for being some of the last places in the UK where locals speak Scottish Gaelic in daily life. 

The residents are also widely known as practical, traditional and god-fearing folk, and it seems they haven't let their newfound wealth change them too much. 

Landscape on the island of North Uist (Uibhist a Tuath) in the Outer Hebrides. Sandy beach with dunes near Solas. Europe. Scotland. June. (Photo by: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The pure shores of the Outer Hebrides - who needs money? (Getty)

Now, a new documentary, The Scottish Island That Won The Lottery, will be shown at 8pm on Saturday Night on Channel 4. 

It details how islanders have spent their newfound wealth - not on flashy jewellery or sports cars but on humble, helpful items such as cattle grids and a new frying pan. 

It follows Duncan Campbell, for example, a 83-year-old former peat cutter, as he purchases himself a new £70 wheelbarrow and a pedal bin. 

“My old wheelbarrow badly needed replacing so it was the best thing I could buy myself,” he said. 

The best way to survive the notorious 'curse' of winning the lottery, it seems, is to win it on a wild and windswept island in a tight-knit community of friends. 

Read more North Uist wind farm project 

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