National Lottery benefits to Kent
PUBLISHED: 16:18 19 October 2014 | UPDATED: 08:27 20 November 2014
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
It's 20 years since those numbered balls first starting bringing a fortune to the lucky few. Kent Life looks back at how the National Lottery has also brought benefits to the many in Kent
John Major was Prime Minister, Star Trek: Generations was the must-see film, Whigfield was riding high in the charts with Saturday Night and Sweden joined the European Union.
But something else is rousing ordinary folk from their Kent homes to local newsagents. Welcome to November 1994, when the National Lottery started in the UK. I can still remember the first National Lottery weekend, Mystic Meg and the chance of a windfall. I spent ages choosing my six numbers, carefully picking digits that had special meaning for me. Birthdays of family members, the date I met my girlfriend, my favourite months…
The much-hyped TV show on the Saturday came and went without making me a millionaire, just like all subsequent draws. I won £10 that first week, but that’s pretty much the extent of my Lottery luck.
Twenty years have now passed since that first set of balls got us hooked on the idea of making it big and that “it could be you.”
Of course, the way we play the National Lottery has changed a lot in those two decades; there are more draws, different types of draws to enter, draws on different days of the week, a range of scratch cards to tempt us and ways to enter online. But the principal is the same: spending a few pounds on the chance of making a fortune.
There is, of course, another side to the National Lottery. Since the outset, 28 per cent of National Lottery sales has been designated to a “good causes” fund which has boosted all kinds of projects up and down the country.
So far, more than £20 billion has been awarded through the funding programme, a considerable benefit created by queues of people lining up for tickets.
And even though few of us have won a fortune on the lottery, the logo to indicate Lottery Funding is something we are all familiar with. You’ll see it at museums up and down the county, with dozens benefiting in one form or another.
Dover Museum, for example, has been working on a long-term project with local schools, community groups and residents of former mining communities to help the council create a digital history of the Kent coalfields, using photographs, oral stories, written evidence and videos.
The Heritage Grant of £285,000 also went towards creating a walking trail known as the Miner’s Way, which links communities, coalfields and parts of the East Kent Light Railway so that future generations can explore the heritage of the area.
An 18-month project in 2009 also benefited museums in Dover, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. Known as Inside Out, the scheme brought teenagers into environments they considered to be “stuffy” and “boring” and allowed them to create new displays and interactive areas, making them appeal more to young people and also involving teens in the creative partnership.
One group that finds the good causes awards to be buzzing is the Kent Bee Keepers Association. In 2000 it was awarded more than £2,000 to buy new equipment and is one of many small organisations that has benefited.
The Kent Underground Research Group was awarded £2,600 to help excavate an old mine shaft and produce a report about the dig. More recently, in 2013, the Kent Wildlife Trust was awarded £5,000 to carry out environmental work.
Larger schemes have also transformed some parts of Kent, such as the ongoing Townscape Heritage Initiative in Ramsgate, which will see work carried out on dozens of buildings. The Heritage Lottery Fund has pumped £750,000 into the project, matched by Thanet District Council, with the goal of conserving and enhancing the distinctive character that gives Ramsgate seafront its unique feel.
By the time the work comes to an end, 62 mini projects will have been paid for as part of the initiative, bringing disused floor space back to use, repairing shops, reintroducing historical features on buildings and filling in the gaps in street frontages. The Victorian character of the town will also be focused on as some of the old shelters on the seafront get restored.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the French Hospital in Rochester had been given a grant of £1.2 million to create the first ever Huguenot Heritage Centre.
This will tell the story of the tens of thousands of French protestants who fled from France in the 16th and 17th centuries to escape religious persecution.
The French Hospital was established in 1718 to look after Huguenots too poor to look after themselves, with the flats in Rochester being one of several sites they set up in the south east.
Through a range of displays and activities, the Huguenot Heritage Centre will be constructed to tell the dramatic story. Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “This project will provide Rochester with a fascinating historical resource and visitor attraction enabling people to learn about a wave of migration that brought many advantages to British society.
“Giving people the chance to discover if they have Huguenot ancestry will, I’m certain, be especially popular.”
Peter Duval, Chairman of the Huguenot Heritage Centre, adds: “The Directors of the French Hospital have been working towards the creation of a Huguenot Heritage Centre for many years.
“I am delighted by the news of this award, which allows us now to bring the little-known but fascinating, and hugely important, story of Huguenot immigration and integration to a wide audience. It is an enormously important part of our collective heritage.”
While researching and writing this article, I’ve still not won the National Lottery. With odds of nearly 14 million to one, I’m not holding my breath until I do.
But there’s been more to this country wide gamble over the last 20 years than just trying to get rich quick.
There’s also the fact that 28p in every £1 goes to good causes like these. And there are many places, buildings and people in Kent that are richer as a result. n