Death of Britain’s unluckiest punter leaves winning legacy for Cromer RNLI

George Atkinson pictured on his 100th birthday at William Hill betting shop at Swaffham. Picture: De

George Atkinson pictured on his 100th birthday at William Hill betting shop at Swaffham. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant © 2011

He may have defied the odds by living to the grand old age of 104, but George Atkinson was known as one Britain's unluckiest racing punters.

Cromer lifeboat the Lester sitting off the station with its sister relief boat. Picture: PAUL RUSSEL

Cromer lifeboat the Lester sitting off the station with its sister relief boat. Picture: PAUL RUSSELL - Credit: Archant

Such was his reputation that Mr Atkinson, who died in March, was affectionately known as George the Second at the Swaffham bookmakers he visited every day for a flutter.

Now, two months on from his death, some of those losses have turned to winnings for Cromer RNLI after William Hill decided to make a donation to the charity in his memory.

Believed to have been Britain's oldest punter, Mr Atkinson's first ever flutter was at the Epsom Derby, at the age of just 12. His first bet on the Grand National was in the 1940s. But over the years, he never picked a winner.

Last year the betting shop chain gave Mr Atkinson a free bet in a bid to break his duck on the National –only for his horse to come in fourth.

Money has been donated to Cromer RNLI by William Hill who put a bet on the Grand National in Mr Atki

Money has been donated to Cromer RNLI by William Hill who put a bet on the Grand National in Mr Atkinson's memory. Left to right, Cromer RNLI mechanic Paul Watling, Barry Willett and Cromer RNLI chairman Tony Webster - Credit: Archant


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In a tribute to Mr Atkinson the company placed a £104 bet on the 33-1 shot Rule The World in last month's National – and the horse came in for them, raising £3,500.

The money is being divided between charities close to Mr Atkinson's heart – the RNLI and Myeloma UK.

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A cheque was presented at the Cromer lifeboat station yesterday by Barry Willett, who married Mr Atkinson's grand-daughter Sally-Ann in December. Their wedding saw Mr Atkinson, a father-of-seven, enter the record books when he became the oldest man to give a bride away.

Mr Willett said: 'George was a real character, the life and soul of the party. He had such a positive outlook on life.'

Mr Atkinson's grandfather was a bookmaker and his father was a tic-tac man, who used a traditional method of hand signals to communicate odds.

A retired painter and foreman, Mr Atkinson credited his longevity to not taking life too seriously.

And ever the optimist, he had been hoping to back a winner at the Cheltenham Gold Cup before he died two weeks from his 105th birthday.

Speaking at the time of his 100th birthday, he said: 'I don't worry over anything and laugh all the time.

'Worry kills you and laughter is the greatest tonic in the world. I never take any tablets, it's just mind over matter.'

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