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We spent our Lotto jackpot on new knees ..SO WE COULD TRIP THE LIGHT FANTASTIC AGAIN; EXCLUSIVE Dance lovers' pounds 2.4 million win puts them back in step.

Byline: BY KATE JACKSON

WHEN Tony and Greta Dodd scooped pounds 2million on the lottery, a flashy car, posh new house or exotic holiday wasn't at the top of their wishlist - all they really wanted was a painfree waltz down the social club.

As soon as the retired couple pocketed the jackpot, they couldn't wait to book into a private clinic to swap their old, worn-out knees for brand new ones.

And now, a year on, ballroom fans Tony and Greta say their matching ops have given them a new lease of life.

"We like a waltz around the dancefloor," says Tony, a retired taxi driver from Wallasey, Merseyside. "We're not a professional dance couple but we like the usual jig about.

"We used to go dancing at our local social club but we had to stop when our knees got bad."

Last July, Tony, 68, was suffering so much that he couldn't walk for more than 10 minutes at a time, and golf - his favourite hobby - had become an impossibility.

He had also packed in his job because he couldn't help lift suitcases and baby buggies in and out of his cab.

"It was getting worse and worse," says Tony, who has one daughter, Jane, 42. "I had to pack in everything in October 2006.

"I couldn't walk more than 100 yards, I couldn't play golf. Generally life was a bit depressing."

Tony went on the NHS waiting list for replacement knees in February 2007 and it wasn't long before Greta joined him.

"I'd had problems over the years and before we won the money, we went on holiday in Cyprus and Tony noticed how swollen my knees were," says Greta, 70.

"He suggested I get them checked out sooner rather than later in case I had a long wait on the list.

"I was flabbergasted when I saw the X-rays and the doctor told me I would need to replace both of them."

A private operation, costing between pounds 8,000 and pounds 10,000 per knee, was out of the question. But lady luck took a shine to the couple and matched their six lottery numbers of 3, 10, 21, 25, 29 and 49, bringing in a windfall of pounds 2,438,155 in a rollover jackpot on July 21 last year. It was the first time Tony changed his regular numbers since he started playing the lottery when it launched in 1994.

"I'd forgotten to take the form to the newsagent, so I had to write a new one," he says. "I couldn't remember the sixth number, so I picked 49 at random.

"I couldn't believe it when we won. I told Greta and she didn't believe me so she checked herself."

And there wasn't a second's thought as to what to spend the money on first. Within a week of their windfall, Tony had booked in to Murrayfield Hospital, Merseyside, to have his left knee done.

"It's a very big operation, probably the most painful thing anyone can experience and you're not very mobile for the first six to eight weeks," Tony says.

"You have to keep exercising it for the rest of your life - but my exercise now is my golf and the exercise bike."

And Greta's over the moon at being able to go swimming again. "We used to go at least once a week and I love swimming in the sea on holiday," she says.

"It's funny though - I'm not allowed to do breast stroke now because of the kick, so it's only front crawl."

The four new knees cost pounds 40,400 but Tony and Greta say it's money well spent.

"We didn't even think of going private before the lottery money," says Tony. "It was a lot of money but it was worth it.

"We were both more than happy to have our operations done on the NHS. But we had this gift of the money and I was in a lot of pain, so I just wanted them done as soon as possible."

With a couple of million quid to hand, the pair have splashed out on a few luxury items, too.

Before the jackpot win they were temporarily renting a three-bedroom terraced house while looking for a new pad. Now, they're overjoyed to be able to tango in the lounge of their four-bedroom home.

"It's quite huge - a typical lottery winner's house," Tony says. "We've got an en suite bathroom now which we've never had, and a two-car garage where my Mercedes is kept.

"We had been looking to buy before the win but then, all of a sudden, we could walk in and ask for whatever we wanted. I've also got myself a new set of golf clubs."

The couple, who will be celebrating 47 years of marriage on Tony's birthday on August 5, also enjoyed a luxury holiday to Barbados and a cruise around the Caribbean.

"I was in the Royal Navy when I met Greta, who was a Royal Naval Reserve in Liverpool in 1961," says Tony. "I had been to Barbados when I was in the Navy in 1962. It was wonderful to revisit the places where I'd been before."

Meanwhile, the windfall has landed Greta some special jewellery.

"Tony bought me two beautiful rings - one is a five-diamond eternity ring and the other is a diamond solitaire," she says.

And she's the first to acknowledge how lucky the couple have been.

"I get a pension from my former job but Tony doesn't," she says. "Really, in the current economic climate, I think we might have struggled.

"But we're very fortunate and don't take that for granted."

pounds 20,100,472 Amount won by Britain's biggest single lottery winner, Iris Jeffrey from Belfast, on July 14 2004.

The operation is probably the most painful thing anyone can experience

CAPTION(S):

DANCE CLASSY Greta and Tony and, below, their new knees Pictures: JOHN POWELL; ELEGANT The couple on the dancefloor; TOGETHER Greta and Tony wed in 1961
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 12, 2008
Words:1002
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