£1.5million cash boost for Sunderland's Beacon of Light

How the Beacon of Light will look
How the Beacon of Light will look
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Sunderland's new Beacon of Light has scored a £1.5million sporting lottery boost.

The grant comes from Sports England's Strategic Facilities Fund and is one of the largest awards received by the Beacon.

(from left) Ian Dipper, of the Foundation of Light; Charlotte Rush, from Wearside Wildcats Netball team; Jonathan Couves, of Sport England; Lesley Spuhler OBE, the of Foundation of Light, table tennis player Dave Godbold and Susan Hunter, of Newcastle Eagles Basketball team.

(from left) Ian Dipper, of the Foundation of Light; Charlotte Rush, from Wearside Wildcats Netball team; Jonathan Couves, of Sport England; Lesley Spuhler OBE, the of Foundation of Light, table tennis player Dave Godbold and Susan Hunter, of Newcastle Eagles Basketball team.

Sport England is a government body responsible for promoting and supporting sport across the UK.

Work on the £18million Beacon, next to the Stadium of Light, began in October and is expected to be completed by early 2018.

It will bring together sport, education, and health and well-being, as well as introducing young people to the world of work.

The striking cube-shaped development, which will be illuminated at night, will include education and training facilities with an indoor football pitch above.

Sport England director of facilities Charles Johnston said: "We are delighted to offer £1.5million of National Lottery funding to help people in Sunderland live more active lives.

"Offering sport, health and wellbeing, alongside education,will put it rightly in the heart of the community. With plans to offer an impressive range of sporting and fitness options, this new centre will be huge asset for the region.

"The Foundation of Light already has an enviable track record in delivering pioneering education and health programmes to improve the lives of local people, and the Beacon will massively increase the number of people it can reach.

"I wish the Foundation of Light every success in delivering this first-class facility."

Foundation chief excutive Lesley Spuhler OBE added: "We are very grateful to Sport England and the National Lottery for their significant financial contribution and huge vote of confidence in the Beacon of Light.

"The grant of £1.5million from the National Lottery Strategic Facilities Fund, which is awarded by Sport England, will be used in phase 1 of the construction of the Beacon, which started in October.”

The Beacon has been designed to inspire participation and achievement and provide greater opportunities for sport and play from an early age, and to improve training, opportunities and standards for coaches and teachers.

The sports facilities will include world class facilities for no fewer than 12 sports, a sports hall and courts including an acoustic performances space, 7-a- side indoor 4G pitch and six 5-a- side outdoor pitches, as well as changing areas for indoor and outdoor sports.

The Beacon will also help people to do more and be more by gaining skills and qualifications. The education zone will be imaginatively designed to inspire young and old, and encourage generations of families to learn together.

The Foundation of Light already delivers 35 exclusive and award-winning programmes and the Beacon will enable it to broaden its education portfolio, with an education quarter which will include a range of modern and digitally advanced learning zones able to offer formal and informal learning experiences.

There will also be designated maths and science labs.

By blending education, health and well-being and sport together the Beacon aims to enable individuals and families to develop healthier and happier lives. It will provide 20,000 health MOTs every year and address other health issues such as smoking and weight management.

"Combining health and wellness with education, for children and adults, is such a simple idea but it can have an instant and dramatic impact on people’s lives. Our education programmes will include nutrition and healthy eating, for example, in partnership with the Jamie Oliver Foundation”, added Lesley.

Sport England is responsible for grassroots sport in England. Working with national and local partners including national governing bodies of sport, local authorities, charities and other sporting organisations, it is committed to helping people live more active lives.