Tragedy of Woman Who Couldn't Cope with Half a Million Pound Lottery Win

Tragedy of Woman Who Couldn't Cope with Half a Million Pound Lottery Win
A lottery winner was killed by a train after years of struggling to cope with her £500,000 scratchcard jackpot, an inquest was told.  
 
Former ballet dancer Helen Ford, 54, was able to buy an apartment in the seaside town on Penarth, near Cardiff, with her winnings, but friends described the windfall as 'the worst thing that could ever happen to her'. 
 
An inquest into her death at Cardiff Coroner's Court was told she had struggled to manage her finances after the lottery win in September 2003, and was living with bipolar personality disorder.
 
Unmarried Miss Ford had won the jackpot prize as part of a hat-trick of wins in one day, scooping £45 on her first scratchcard, then the big prize and later a further £50 on the National Lottery.
 
But weeks after her big win she spoke about how she had struggled with manic depression, which she was diagnosed with at the age of 25.   
 
'People seem to think I should be happy all the time because of the lottery,' she said. 'But money doesn't buy you health and happiness.' 
 
She added: 'The lottery helps as it's given me financial security and the opportunity to explore other avenues, like holidays that I wouldn't normally afford.
 
'But it doesn't buy health or solve problems. People who think if they win £30m it will solve their problems, it won't.
 
'If I had won £30m it wouldn't have made me better. Money isn't what's important in life and people should remember that.' 
 
Speaking after her death on January 21, this year, her friends said that the money had failed to bring Miss Ford lasting happiness.
 
Close friend Tracey Alexander said: 'When she won the lottery it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to her.
 
'She was unable to cope with being responsible for the money.
 
'It didn't do much good for her.'
 
Miss Ford's friends said as well as her flat, she had bought a seaside apartment, a luxury holiday to the Seychelles, a new Fiat Punto and a cat called Mowgli, as well as donating money to Gamblers Anonymous
 
Her sister, Rebekah Donovan said: 'The worst thing to have happened to her was to win that money.
 
'Helen was a character, she loved people and they loved her which showed by the enormous turn out at her funeral.'
 
Miss Fords's younger brother Simon Ford also gave a touching tribute to his sister after her death.
 
He said: 'I am extremely grateful to all family and friends for the support, encouragement, warmth and friendship shown towards Helen throughout her long and difficult journey.
 
'She was an extremely talented dancer and it came as no surprise when she was accepted to Rambert School of Ballet in London.
 
'Unfortunately it was here that her mental health started to deteriorate and had to cut short her studies.
 
'Helen was a warm, kind-hearted woman who thrived on the company of her many friends.' 
 
 
The inquest heard how Miss Ford walked onto a railway track at Dingle Road railway station, near her home in the Victorian seaside town and was hit by a commuter train.
 
An assistant coroner ruled there was not enough evidence to determine whether she had intended to take her own life in the incident. 
 
She had left school at the age of 16 and was accepted into Rambert School of Ballet in London, but found it difficult to cope with the pressure and had to cut short her studies.
 
She had dreamed of being an actress and had walk-on parts in Casualty and District Nurse, but did not work after the lottery win.
 
The hearing was told how Miss Ford had suffered from bipolar personality disorder which led her to experience feelings of 'loneliness and despair'.
 
'Helen had won £500,000 on a scratchcard in 2003 and she had struggled to manage her finances,' Dr Martyn Davies, a psychiatrist at Penarth Community Mental Health Team told the inquest. 
 
Dr Davies added that Miss Ford had frequently taken overdoses as a 'cry for help'. But he said she would quickly recover and return to her 'normal happy and smiling self'.
 
He said she was offered a new home in supported housing to help with her condition - but she didn't want to leave the flat she had bought with the help of her lottery winnings.
 
'It is difficult to imagine how more support could have been provided in a very difficult situation over many months,' said Dr Davies.
 
'It was very difficult with her widely fluctuating emotions.'
 
The inquest was told Miss Ford died from 'multiple severe injuries', and Cardiff assistant coroner Thomas Atherton recorded a narrative verdict.
 
He said: 'I am not satisfied there is enough evidence to return a verdict that Helen Ford took her own life.
 
'Helen died as a consequence of being hit by a train - her intentions at the time were not clear.' 
 
For confidential support on suicide matters in the UK, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here.  
 
 

Source: The Daily Mail