Son pens story of the '˜real' Viv Nicholson

she captured the attention of the nation when declaring she would '˜spend, spend, spend' every penny of a notorious pools win in 1961.

And Viv Nicholson remained firmly in the public eye as she and her husband Keith stayed true to her word, rapidly spending their £152,000 fortune in just three years. That wasn’t the end of the limelight for Castleford-born Viv whose tale became a movie and musical.

She was widowed at the age of 27, married five times and gained and lost another sizable sum of money, all before she hit the age of 45. And she suffered a difficult battle with drink, attempting suicide more than once.

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But when Viv found peace and contentment in her later years, she was determined to tell the story of ‘the real Viv’.

Now, two years after her death from dementia, her son Howard Nicholson has made her last wish come true, by publishing a book about her life.

Mr Nicholson, of Horsforth, said: “For Viv, telling the full story was crucial. Her journey to finding a redemptive peace within herself and with her family was a revelation that she felt compelled to relate.

“And with her permission, I’ve taken on the task of finishing my mum’s work.”

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Told from Mr Nicholson’s perspective, with contributions from other family members, ‘You Don’t Know Viv’ aims to ensure the whole story of the “lass from Cas” will not be forgotten.

“Mum wanted to set the record straight and show the other side to her, the real behind the scenes that people didn’t really know,” he said.

“It was a dying wish of hers and it has been challenging for me but I think I have done it justice. My mother turned her life around. She became a much happier person.

“Despite all the knocks and difficulties she faced in her life, I do think her story shows how you can get back up and keep going, as she did.

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“In her later years, she really had that kind of peace. You could really see it in her that it was the happiest time of her life. She said if anybody can learn from her experiences even if just one person, she would be happy.

“I think a lot of people will really warm to her, rather than remembering her as someone who was outrageous spending all her money.”

To purchase a copy, visit

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