CHARITIES and community groups are today celebrating after being awarded a share of the Echo’s £250,000 cash bonanza.
We joined forces with the Big Lottery Fund to hand out grants of between £10,000 and £30,000 to community and not-for-profit organisations, parish and town councils, health bodies and schools.
Readers voted on a short-list of the best ideas – and now we can announce the 14 winners of our Do a Lotto Good drive.
Echo editor John Szymanski said: “Our Do a Lotto Good campaign is doing exactly what it says on the tin.
“Many local community groups and worthy causes will benefit greatly from this cash to carry on their vital work.
“It was a very difficult process to judge them all on their merits.
“I congratulate all the shortlisted entrants and winners, and I look forward to hearing about their future successes.”
Dharmendra Kanani, director of the Big Lottery Fund England, said: “Congratulations to the 14 outstanding projects.
“It’s great to see a wide range of the community of Sunderland represented.
“I’m heartened to see so many great examples of how people-powered change is under way in your own neighbourhoods.
“But don’t let it stop here, hopefully the projects that have benefited today will inspire you to unleash your community spirit that has helped today’s winners put their aspirations into action.”
Some of the lucky winners today welcomed their windfalls. Southwick & Monkwearmouth Community Transport scooped the largest amount with £23,693, which will be used to replace one of its aging buses helping hundreds of people, including Scout groups and youth clubs.
Administrator Lesley Lawson, who works alongside Pat Wilson in the role, said: “It’s brilliant because we can trade in our oldest bus, which has been costing us quite a lot in maintenance and repairs.
“We used to be able to trade them in every five years, but that’s just not possible now, and so this is really good.”
The Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade has been handed £20,000 to replace its rescue vehicle, which is now five years old.
The 4x4 is used to carry members and equipment to incidents and transport casualties from inaccessible areas.
Rose Roberts, from the group, said: “The vehicle will be fitted with blue lights, two-tone horns, radio, shelving to stow equipment and graphics to identify us as a rescue team. The award will ensure that we have a reliable vehicle to respond to emergencies for many years to come.”
St Mary’s and St Peter’s Community Project, in Sunderland, has been awarded £17,500 to set up a horticultural project to encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle, gain new skills and socialise.
Project development officer Sarah Hindley said: “We are ecstatic to be chosen to receive funding.
“We cannot thank enough everyone who took the time to vote for our project.
“We are now really excited that we are able to put our plans in progress and start the project. In a time of uncertainty, it is fantastic to offer our community young and old the opportunity to learn new skills share their experience and build new and hopefully long lasting friendships.”
THE full list of groups awarded grants and total are:
•Southwick and Monkwearmouth Community Transport – £23,693.
•The North East Autism Society – £23,625.
•Action on Dementia Sunderland – £22,337.
•Lambton Street Youth Centre – £21,363.
•St Mark’s Community Association – £20,200.
•Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade – £20,000.
•Special Olympics Sunderland – £19,000.
•St Gabriel’s Camp Group – £18,320.
•Friends of Donnison School – £18,000.
•St Mary’s and St Peter’s Community Project – £17,500.
•South Hylton Tansy Centre – £16,100.
•Washington MIND – £15,600.
•The Youth Almighty Project – £13,575.
•Young Asian Voices – £11,480.