Everything changed for Deb Gellatly and Tony Pearce soon after they took in a stray black cat named Billy. They were down on their luck, but then they got extremely lucky! Six months after taking in the stray, they won the National Lottery, acquired £1,000,000 ($1.2 million), had a dream wedding and bought a dream home. Today, they credit their winning spree to Billy, who might be about 8 years old.
For us, it isn’t so surprising to learn that the couple now waits on Billy and gives him a life of luxury.
“Some people say black cats are unlucky, I’d say nothing could be further from the truth!” said Deb, who is now Deb Pearce.
In February 2017, Tony, now 71, had a cardiac arrest, putting the couple in a terrible financial situation. The couple was about to sell their home and move into a rental place.
“We were not in a good place because we didn’t want to move,” Tony told the National Lottery. “Our life was gonna be totally different.”
Then all that changed. The couple, who had been together 30 years, finally got married after Tony recovered.
“It allowed us to do our wedding because we’ve been together for 30 years and then there’s always been something that’s cropped up and stopped us, and finances, we just couldn’t do it,” Deb, now age 63, said.
At the time, the couple didn’t mention their black cat Billy, but years later, they are giving him credit for good luck.
Here are Tony and Deb when they won the Lotto Millionaire Raffle via The National Lottery:
Couple Credits Lucky Black Cat Billy with Lottery Win
Flash forward to December 2022, and the Pearces are in the news again. Now, they say, taking in the stray cat coincided with the string of luck that prevented them from being homeless too.
The Southend-on-Sea couple appeared in Wales Online to talk about how they have rewarded Billy with a life of luxury.
“When Billy appeared we were close to selling our beloved home and becoming strays ourselves,” said Deb. “Tony had stopped working due to ill health and we were in serious debt. It looked like our only option was to go into rented accommodation then, six months after Billy arrived, lady luck struck and our lives changed for good.”
After the shocking lottery win, they renovated their home into a “perfect slice of heaven.” Then they bought a home in Norfolk, which the whole family enjoys together. And Billy travels in style to the vacation home.
‘Jumping Through Hoops’ for Billy
After taking in Billy, they discovered he had developed diabetes. Fortunately, they can now afford to pay for and administer his twice-daily insulin injections and a hypoallergenic diet. As a stray, Billy probably scraped by on whatever he could catch or find, but now he has two caterers.
“Aside from having us on call for his twice-daily injections, we also jump through hoops for his catering whims,” said Deb. “Perhaps it’s due to his days as a stray when he must have enjoyed a very varied diet, but now we have to keep a selection of food for him.”
She described picking the peas out of Billy’s out of his food since he doesn’t care for those.
“Perhaps it’s due to his days as a stray when he must have enjoyed a very varied diet, but now we have to keep a selection of food for him,” she said. “If he has more than three days on the same flavour he turns up his nose and while he enjoys the chicken and vegetable meal, Billy doesn’t like the peas. I find myself rooting through his food, picking out the peas and wondering who is the National Lottery millionaire around here?!”
Black Cats are Lucky
The couple also purchased a roomy carrier to transport Billy in comfort to the Norfolk vacation home. There, they created living quarters to match what he was familiar with at home.
“I thought he might find it too stressful the first time but he settled down and slept the whole way,” said Tony. “Now, whenever the carrier comes out of the loft, he hops in as if to say ‘come on, let’s get going!'”
When he arrives, he makes himself at home right away, enjoying being waited on by the humans.
“When I find myself paying the bill for vet care or Billy’s specialist diet, that comes in at more than our annual trip to The Savoy. I can’t help thinking that it might be Billy who is also lucky,” said Tony.
“It’s not a bad life for a Southend stray who clearly turned up on the right doorstep at the right time and proved to us that black cats are in fact lucky!”
So was adopting a black cat lucky? We wouldn’t disagree; black cats have often been considered lucky throughout history. But caring for cats and animals, in general, is wonderful and brings many priceless rewards.
Images: National Lottery/PA, Screenshot via YouTube/NationalLottery