Britain’s oldest lotto winner, 89, spends lockdown looking for tools on YouTube
Britain’s oldest lotto winner has been able to put his time in lockdown to good use by creating a beautiful Christmas crib – after his daughter got him set up with a new iPad.
Kind-hearted Dennis Banfield, who will be 90 later this month, honed the crib with his bare hands out of wood as a way of keeping himself occupied during the epidemic.
But he would not have been able to do it where it not for his savvy daughters who live nearby.
Dennis’s daughters made sure their mum and dad had the internet installed at the start of the year and the passionate amateur woodworker has “spent many happy hours looking for new tools on the internet, watching videos and reading reviews on YouTube and shopping online at Axminster Tools”.
And he can’t wait to visit the store in person when all this is over.
Dennis, who along with his wife Shirley and two daughters, won £18m on Lotto in February 2018, worked for the South Western Electricity Board as an electrician for 40 years.
He has been retired for more than 30 years and in that time has always had a project on the go in his workshop at home, and has donated to his local church.
Over the years he has made no less than 50 nativity cribs for friends and family.
He has now donated this one to St. Michaels the Archangel Church in Winterbourne, near Bristol.
Since his win, he has treated himself to a few new tools and saws, as well as a new workbench.
“We have actually been very lucky with our lockdown experience.
“I’ve spent most of my time in my workshop which I really enjoy.
“We are also fortunate that our daughters live nearby.
“They made sure we had the internet installed at the start of the year, bought us each a new iPad and got us set up with Netflix.
“I have spent many happy hours looking for new tools on the internet, watching videos and reading reviews on YouTube and shopping online at Axminster Tools – I’m looking forward to visiting them in person when the vaccine is rolled out.
“I think Shirley has found lockdown harder than me, she’s really missed her shopping and singing in Church.
“She also had her 85th birthday in lockdown in October and she wanted to see her sisters and families who all live away.
“I’m 90 next week and we had hoped to have a big party.
“I’m the second youngest of 11 and although my brothers and sisters aren’t around anymore, I have lots of nieces and nephews and it would have been wonderful to get them together with my children, grandchildren and my wife’s family.
“I am disappointed that that won’t happen but I’m really looking forward to rescheduling it for when the vaccine is rolled out.
“We’re both looking forward to getting out for a meal when we can too.
“Shirley always says it’s such a treat to have someone else cook you a meal and not to have to worry about tidying up.
“It will also be great when we can get back to church and Shirley can sing there again.
“We will really miss that this Christmas.”
The new crib is Dennis’s biggest to date, measuring 1.9m long by 1m high and 1m deep.
He used bits of spare wood that he keeps in his workshop and, with the extra time he had available, has gone into great detail on this crib, making ladders, a hayloft and stables.
Dennis has also used his electrical skills to wire lighting into the crib.
The finished crib is being presented to the couple’s local church, where Shirley is also a member of the choir, in time for Father Malcolm Strange to pre-record his Christmas sermons, which will be shown online due to Covid safety restrictions.
Dennis said, “I find great happiness in making the cribs and giving them away to family and friends.
“Last Christmas, Father Malcolm hinted during one of the festive services that the old crib was sadly too small for the new nativity figures that another parishioner had donated to the church so I decided to spring into action.
“During lockdown it has kept me busy and given me something really positive to focus on.”
Father Malcolm said: “This crib is an absolute work of art and we’re thrilled to be able to put it on display in the Church for all our congregation to enjoy during the festive season and we will be blessing it on Christmas Day.”
Dennis has also had time to make a second crib this year which has just been presented to Cots for Tots House – a charity that provides free accommodation for family members who need to stay close to their sick or premature babies at Bristol’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St Michael’s Hospital.
Dennis has already started on his next project, making bird boxes and bird tables for family and friends. But, no doubt, there will be more cribs in the future.