St Helens’ arts team shines on TV

From left, Ainsley Harriot, Coun Jeanie Bell, Kate Jones, Owen Hutchings, Sue Williamson, Cath Shea, Jess Bowstead, Ralph Little
From left, Ainsley Harriot, Coun Jeanie Bell, Kate Jones, Owen Hutchings, Sue Williamson, Cath Shea, Jess Bowstead, Ralph Little

The team behind the success of St Helens Libraries’ Cultural Hubs were seen celebrating it being voted the nation’s Best Arts project in this year’s National Lottery Awards on TV on Monday in front of a star-studded audience.

They were joined on the red carpet by celebs such as John Barrowman, Kimberly Wyatt, Katie Derham and many of Team GB’s National Lottery funded Olympic heroes as they accept their honour.

Millions of TV viewers saw the project recognised for its inspirational work using £249,600 of National Lottery funding to run a series of arts, music and drama sessions in libraries for more than 4,000 people across St Helens.

A short film featuring a visit from actor Ralf Little was also be shown on the programme, The National Lottery Stars 2016, at 10.45pm on BBC One.

Sue Williamson, Head of Libraries at St Helens, said: “Thanks to everyone who voted for us, we are thrilled to win this award.

“Participants in this project have helped us bring so much great art to people in St Helens through our libraries. It wouldn’t have been possible without National Lottery funding, so I’d like to thank Lottery players.”

John Barrowman, who will presenting the show for the seventh year, added: “The National Lottery Awards celebrate the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects as voted for by the public.

“They recognise the legends behind these amazing organisations – ordinary people who do extraordinary things with National Lottery funding.

“We have had a golden summer in 2016 with the success of Team GB. It is fitting that we carry on the celebrations by honouring other people and projects who are making a life-changing impact with National Lottery funding throughout the UK.

“This year’s winners have raised the bar, yet again, and National Lottery players can be very proud to have contributed towards their fine work.”

There are seven categories in the National Lottery Awards, reflecting the main areas of Lottery funding: arts, education, environment, health, heritage, sport, and voluntary/charity.

St Helens Libraries’ Cultural Hubs beat off six other challengers in a public vote to win the Best Arts Project. It will receive a £3,000 cash prize to spend on the project as well as a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy.

National Lottery players have been changing lives for 21 years - they currently raise over £36 million every week for projects across the UK. The National Lottery Awards recognise and celebrate the difference that Lottery-funded organisations, both large and small, make to local communities the length and breadth of the UK.