Lotto boss hands in her ticket

Evidence of Jan Stewart's contribution to the WA community can be found in every corner of the State.

From a kindergarten playground in Albany, to the spectacular treetop walk in Kings Park, a Men's Shed in Gingin and a youth centre in Midland, the Lotterywest chief executive has overseen the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of community grants in her 22 years in the role.

At the same time, she has had the rewarding job of handing over millions in winnings to lucky Lotto players.

This week, 27 years after the former Princess Margaret Hospital social worker "fell into a job" at the then Lotteries Commission as a grants consultant, Ms Stewart announced to her staff that she will retire as chief executive at the end of the year.

Her passion for the role is evident in the way she talks about the community groups, Lotto retailers, her staff and the Lotto winners she has come into contact with during the 22 years.

She admits she "didn't know anything about running the lottery" but quickly immersed herself in the industry after being hired as a "temporary" chief executive.

"It was never the job for me but I just became completely engaged in it," she said yesterday.

Ms Stewart said while the growth of online gambling presented a challenge for the future, she was confident the community's long-running connection with Lotterywest - the only State-owned lottery system in Australia - would remain.

"We are very lucky to have a lottery that belongs to the community," she said.

"The challenge is going to be engaging a new generation to believe that Lotterywest is ours and you buy a ticket - even though you probably won't win. But you might win and you're contributing to something that's really important - the community."

Lotterywest's long-running association with Fiona Stanley and the Institute for Children's Health Research were among the highlights from Ms Stewart's career.

Dr Stanley's first application for funding for the institute did not fit Lotterywest's criteria but Ms Stewart was so impressed she asked the board to make an exception.

"They did and she got $600,000," Ms Stewart said.

"Success builds on success and over the years we have given the institute a range of grants."

Foodbank chief executive Greg Hebble said the charity was indebted to the support from Lotterywest, totalling more than $15 million over 20 years.

Perth International Arts Festival chairwoman Margaret Seares said Ms Stewart would be "missed around the table".

Premier Colin Barnett said during Ms Stewart's time as chief executive, Lotterywest's annual sales had grown from $231 million to a forecast $817 million this year.

The West Australian

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