The true story of how a Northern Ireland Lottery millionaire is returning whiskey distilling to Belfast after 90 years is set to feature in a new BBC1 documentary.
Peter Lavery was a Belfast bus driver earning less than £200 a week when he became one of Northern Ireland’s richest people overnight on May 18, 1996.
The ordinary working man from Short Strand in east Belfast was instantly thrown into the spotlight and became a local celebrity after he went public with his £10.2million win.
Aired tomorrow night (Friday), the BBC’s Our Lives: The Lottery Millionaire and the Spirit of Belfast retells how that incredible life-changing moment enabled Peter to give up his day job after 10 years with with Citybus Ltd and embark on a series of ambitious projects.
The programme picks up 27 years later as Peter launches several new business enterprises this year. He talks about his most recent endeavour and life-long dream – an attempt to turn the pumphouse close to where the Titanic was once docked into Belfast’s first whiskey distillery for 90 years.
The film follows the progress of Peter’s ambitious plans for a ‘floating’ distillery in the Titanic Pumphouse and the launch of a new tour boat on the River Lagan.
The programme also looks back at his lottery win, what happened to him after that, and how he coped with the turmoil of going from earning less than £200 a week to becoming one of Northern Ireland's richest people overnight. He also describes how his newfound wealth almost killed him.
Speaking in the documentary, project manager Andrew Cowan, explained: “You couldn’t have picked a more difficult location. You have to be respectful for the site, respectful for the building, respectful for what happened here.
“You couldn’t have picked a more difficult challenge, but that’s Peter Lavery for you.”
Peter added: “It’s been a labour of love and near put my head away, but it’s worth it.”