When your number plate says LOTTO, fans take notice.
They think they have spotted a lucky winner.
Not so, Bob Lapthorne would say - not a winner but lucky all right.
Over 25 years he sold many winning Lotto tickets from his South City Lotto outlet - some big winners, some just happy to get a few dollars in.
But what he and his wife Trish did win was a top-five placing for eight successive years in Lotto's 640 retail outlet network.
They had started up the business South City Take Note, added Lotto, NZ Post and Kiwibank and run it as an anchor store in the South City centre.
They ran it for 25 years, after Bob's earlier 25 years as a state coalminer at Ohai.
His redundancy in 1987, when Coal Corp took over, did not defeat the couple.
With two little boys at school and their daughter just four, they moved into Invercargill, took on a seven-day dairy and worked hard.
They sold it to buy and gut South City's anchor store and built their South City Take Note, adding the extra businesses to provide a six day a week service employing up to 10 staff and making many friends through it.
Bob's appointment as a Justice of the Peace filled a need for help in South City and his home at Gretna Green was open to all comers. But after 25 years, with Bob's health not great and deteriorating, they sold it.
Bob battled on with the help of Trish, nee Irvine. They moved house, down- sized, re-organised,
Then on Christmas Eve, Bob, 64, passed away quietly at his Harvey St home.
He had led an extraordinarily active life with hunting, shooting, fishing always at the top of his list and he was pleased his sons enjoyed the same things.
The Lapthornes had met as teenagers and married young and thought they would always live where their families lived - in the coal mining townships of Ohai and Nightcaps.
But the change in fortune turned their lives around and Trish says they are grateful for the success they managed with Jason a qualified chef, Nicholas in the overseas financial markets and Chanelle a trained hairdresser and qualified beauty therapist now tutoring in beauty therapy in Nelson where she and her husband live.
Bob leaves behind his widow Trish, their three children and their partners and grand daughter Demi, his only brother Bruce, Winton, a host of relatives in the close knit Takitimu area, and loads of Lotto buyers in South City who swore his was the luckiest smile around.
- © Fairfax NZ News