Pools win character Viv Nicholson dies aged 79

Viv Nicholson and husband Keith collect their Littlewoods pools cheque from Bruce Forsyth
Viv Nicholson and husband Keith collect their Littlewoods pools cheque from Bruce Forsyth
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Britain’s most famous pools winner Viv Nicholson has died at the age of 79.

Viv, from Castleford, who rose to fame when she vowed to “spend, spend, spend” after winning more than £152,000 in 1961, died at Pinderfields Hospital yesterday (Saturday, April 11).

Viv and her husband Keith, a former miner, took just three years to spend the money - the equivalent of £3.5m today.

Her son Howard said she died yesterday after a “long battle with dementia.”

He said: “Mum was a one-off in all ways - a loving and loved mother, a glamorous great grandmother and a friend to many.”

Viv and Keith blew the cash on flash cars, jewellery and a new home in Garforth.

But after Mr Nicholson died in a car crash in 1965, Viv was left with a huge tax bill and later declared bankrupt.

She then struggled with alcohol and depression before moving to Malta but was deported from the country following a fight with a policeman.

The award-winning West End musical Spend Spend Spend was written about her colourful life and is currently being performed at the Union Theatre on London.

Viv was also invited to pose for the cover of the Smiths’ 1984 record Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.

She was diagnosed with dementia in 2009 and her family requested donations to Dementia UK in her memory.

See the website for more tomorrow and this week’s Pontefract and Castleford Express for the full story and tributes.