A humble teacher who scooped up the £1million prize on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? has given most of his winnings away.
Donald Fear, 58, donated 70 per cent of his huge prize to his much-loved relatives, after becoming the first contestant in 14 years to win the jackpot last September.
Despite the eye-watering sum, Mr Fear still leads a modest life at his home in Telford, Shropshire, driving his same beloved Nissan Juke and playing table tennis.
Mr Fear has, however, made some upgrades to his home to have new patio doors fitted, while he also bought a motorhome.
While initially carrying on with his job as head of history and politics at Haberdashers’ Adams in Newport, he in December decided he could call it a day and retired two years early.
He now hopes the Covid-19 situation will soon allow him to pursue his dreams of travelling.
“I would love to do a safari holiday, go to America and go whale watching and to Australia to watch cricket,” he said.
He had an “exciting” last month with the arrival of his two grandsons, Oliver and Dylan.
Don, who also has a two-year-old granddaughter called Emily, said: “Dylan’s parents were visiting us from Newton Abbot in Devon, just for a weekend, when Dylan decided to put in an appearance seven weeks early and was born in the Princess Royal Hospital at just 4lb 13oz.
“It was lovely and my wife was able to support our youngest daughter, Isabelle – Dylan’s mum – for a time afterwards.”
After scooping the £1 million prize on the ITV show, the head of history and politics returned to the classroom rather than hanging up his name badge.
He finally said his fond farewells to pupils and staff at the school, where he had taught since 2013, when he retired in December.
“That was my hardest ever term, with the masks, social distancing and Zoom lessons,” said Don, who became the sixth champion in the ITV programme’s 22-year history when he correctly answered the 15th and final question about the death of a famous pirate in 1718.
He’d only used one of his lifelines, 50:50, to win the jackpot and his modest demeanour throughout the show endeared him to a nation.
One thing that definitely hasn’t changed is his love of table tennis.
And his local club opens again after more than a year’s hiatus, a moment he has been looking forward to ever since the pandemic disrupted everybody’s lives.
He is now on a drive to encourage more people urged to pick up a bat and join in, as well as opening up the sport to those of all ages as well as with disabilities.
It is a life-long passion, he explains, adding: “I’ve been playing since the age of about 16. They had table tennis at the sixth form I went to and I spent time playing there.
“In free periods we would play in the corridor. In the second year of sixth form we formed a league team and won our division.”
Later on, he joined Lilleshall Table Tennis Centre, which meets at the national sports centre, and he is now the chairman.
It has now been registered as a Table Tennis England (TTE) Premier Club.
Its members have big plans to turn it into a centre for disability sport and attract top table tennis players.
Don said: “We have also had interest from TTE and the Vetts Society to make Lilleshall their premier venue for regular weekend tournaments.
“And our vice president Rod Lewis has been in touch with his old table tennis friends in Asia.
“They are coming to visit Lilleshall with a view to holding residential training camps with the likes of the Chinese national team.
“Initially our main focus will be on the elderly and disabled with bat and chat and table tennis therapy using the latest specialised tables of which Rod has already purchased three.
“We have custom designed tables for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy.”
He says the club is on the lookout for new members of all ages and standards.
“It’s a really good sport to play,” Don added.
“It keeps a lot of people fit. When you are playing the game you are in this cocoon of concentration. It’s a great feeling of release.”
For more information on the club search for Lilleshall Table Tennis Centre on Facebook or call Don on 01952 416048.
The club meets on Mondays from 7pm until around 10pm, although numbers are currently restricted to 26.