ONE of Sunderland’s key cultural assets has thanked the National Lottery on the day it celebrates 20 years of changing lives.
New figures reveal that The National Lottery has invested more than £107.2m in Sunderland projects since the first draw on November 19, 1994.
The first recipient of arts Lottery funding in the North East was the National Glass Centre, which opened its doors to the public in 1998.
A £6.9million grant helped pay for construction of the arts space on the banks of the River Wear.
James Bustard, director at the St Peter’s venue, said: “Nearly two decades ago National Glass Centre was the first recipient of arts Lottery funding in the North East. Two years ago we applied successfully to two Lottery distributors for £1million to upgrade and improve the centre to meet the demands of our students, visiting artists and audiences.
“The public has voted with its feet and we have welcomed over a quarter of a million visitors since re-opening last July – visitors largely drawn from the North East region. I am especially proud that National Glass Centre has attracted Lottery funding, not once, but twice. It has allowed us to create a new arts organisation that did not exist before – one of national significance. But more importantly, our public popularity means we have been able to give something meaningful back to the North East and to those many people who buy Lottery tickets every week.”
In the past two decades, 1,572 grants have been awarded to individuals and organisations across Sunderland, helping to change lives and transform communities.
While the glass centre has received the largest grant, the smallest was £72 awarded to a Wearside Second World War veteran to help towards travel costs for a commemorative trip to Italy.
Others to benefit across the city include Silksworth Cricket Club, The Raich Carter Sports Centre, the Aquatic Centre, Sunderland Winter Gardens and Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery.
The lives of individuals in Sunderland, those living in the SR postcode area, have also been changed with 161 winners of prizes more than £50,000 created to date.
Jackie O’Sullivan, from the National Lottery, said: “In 20 years The National Lottery has helped transform life in Sunderland for the better, creating iconic cultural landmarks, empowering communities and developing world class sporting talent. National Lottery funding has improved people’s health, preserved our rich heritage and created a better future for all. In addition to all the projects that have benefited, thousands of individuals across the UK have won life changing prizes with 3,600 millionaires created to date.’’
l More than £32billion has been raised since the National Lottery began.
l About 70 per cent of UK adults play the lottery on a regular basis.
l National Lottery funding has helped to restore 6,000 village halls.
l It has also paid for 57,000 war veterans to go on commemorative visits.
l The average winner buys 4.5 cars for themselves and immediate family.
l Local winners include John and Lynne Pittiglio, from Albany in Washington, who scooped more than £180,000 and Ian and Kim McCarthy, from Fatfield, who won the Euromillions £1million raffle last Boxing Day.