It’s hard to believe that it’s been 21 years since Noel Edmonds and Anthea Turner pushed the button starting the very first National Lottery draw.
This month The National Lottery celebrates investing more than £2.7 billion in people, projects, and places in Scotland.
This staggering amount has helped improve communities, change lives and fund a better future in the shape of almost 56,000 individual grants.
Ask most people today about The National Lottery and they will tell you what they’d do if they won.
It’s true, The National Lottery has created over 4,000 millionaires and changed the lives of ordinary people up and down the country. But they, of course, aren’t the only winners.
As a result of The National Lottery, the social, economic, and cultural landscape of Scotland has changed immeasurably in the last 21 years.
Our physical landscape is different too.
The largest amount ever awarded in Scotland, a £25 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, has helped transform 350 hectares of land into an environmental space at The Helix in Falkirk for the whole community to enjoy.
It’s created multiple full-time jobs, a vast number of volunteer opportunities and numerous contracts for local trades.
The magnificent centrepieces to The Helix are of course The Kelpies. Last year The Kelpies topped a public vote of the favourite places funded by The National Lottery in Scotland.
These amazing equine structures have quickly become a new cultural icon of Scotland, attracting international attention and drawing visitors from near and far.
From Orkney’s archaeology and our Highland landscapes, to the industrial past of the Clyde and literary heritage of Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland’s heritage offers much to explore.
Heritage Lottery Fund supports projects throughout the length and breadth of the country including The Whithorn Trust’s Machars Archaeological Project, which has provided local people with the opportunity to take part in the ‘Whithorn Big Dig’ event.
National Lottery funding has helped to completely transform The Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery, situated in the town hall, into a modern day visitor centre and supported the 50th anniversary celebrations of the town of Livingston.
National Lottery funding has positively impacted on Scotland’s diverse urban and rural communities.
It has restored and reinvigorated some of Scotland’s most famous landmarks, such as the National Museum of Scotland, the RRS Discovery and the Robert Burns Museum. And a few new ones have been created too – the Falkirk Wheel, Riverside Museum in Glasgow, and the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness.
It has helped rural communities have a more secure future through landmark buyouts such as the Isle of Gigha, and community groups and charities across the country have utilised funding to bring people together, create opportunity and transform lives.
The incredible range of ways that National Lottery funding touches our lives, from Scottish box office hits like Sunshine on Leith to sport hubs that give so many of us the chance to get fitter. Creative ideas have been brought to life through Creative Scotland funding to arts projects like Sistema Scotland which develops orchestra centres for children, including in Raploch in Stirling and Govanhill in Glasgow.
Investment in sport has not only improved access at a grassroots level but also helped produce world-class talent. Lottery funding helped Team Scotland win a record-breaking 53 medals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and has also helped develop a world-class performance system in Scotland.
Lottery funding has also allowed sportscotland to create 142 Community Sport Hubs right across Scotland with more on the way. These hubs are being driven by local communities, are a key component of the Glasgow 2014 Legacy programme, and now have 115,000 active members in more than 1,000 clubs.
It’s been an amazing 21 years and National Lottery players can be proud of their role in making a real difference in Scotland. I don’t think anyone could have ever predicated the phenomenal impact The National Lottery has had. But rest assured work does not end here.
The National Lottery will continue to bring real improvements to communities in Scotland and to the lives of those most in need by funding projects which bring about positive change.
Vicki Kennedy is Director of The National Lottery